Order Into Chaos
by Victoria P.

Giles dreams.

Jenny leans down and whispers in his ear. Her laugh is wicked, promising naughty delights, and his body responds. Blood racing, groin tightening, he says, -- yes.--

--Yes, Jenny. I will love and cherish you. 'Come live with me and be my love,'-- he quotes and she smiles.

He misses her smile. It haunts him that he's begun to forget her smile, forget her face.

Her expression darkens as if she can read his thoughts. She leans forward to kiss him; she slinks up the bed with purpose, dragging her body against his, igniting his senses. He reaches up to twine his hand in her hair, soft and dark as the starless sky.

And he is spinning, drowning, falling into the depths of her eyes...

He is on top now; she's beneath him, sightless eyes staring out of ashen face, her neck resting at an odd angle.

--No!-- he screams, but makes no sound. There is no one to hear him, even if he could speak. This place is dark and silent, cold and lonely as the grave.

He settles restlessly, lulled back into a deep sleep by his remembrance of her face, of every detail of her death. As long as he remembers, she still lives in some small way.


Giles dreams.

He is himself, both adult and adolescent. He pulls Joyce along behind him, her chatter meaningless but intoxicating. The coy glances and inane giggles -- they mean she wants him. He's going to shag her; she's definitely going to give it up. She wants a taste of Ripper, she does.

He ignores the small voice in the back of his mind that tells him this is a mistake. He's seventeen again, and no one can stop him.

He bends her back over the police car and her hands are already working at his zipper. He kisses her hard, and she no longer responds. Her lips are cold and dry, her body limp beneath him. Mourners gather round the coffin in which she's laid, in which he is kneeling. He is straddling her, horrified.

Buffy stares at him, eyes wide in shock. Dawn is curled against her side, weeping.

--I think you'd better go,-- Xander says, and Giles remembers the last time he saw things that weren't there.

--They're making me see things,-- he says.

Xander turns and he is no longer Xander but Angelus. --And you fall for it every time.--

This is wrong, his mind screams. This is not how it happened.

And again, he is plunged into darkness.


Giles dreams.

He is making tea for Buffy. She chatters on about her day. She reminds him of her mother. He is proud of her.

He pours the tea and adds a discreet dollop of brandy to his cup. --For medicinal purposes,-- he murmurs, though she hasn't questioned him, hasn't even noticed, even though he's trained her to notice everything.

--Drink up,-- he says, but Buffy hasn't moved. --It's all right,-- he says. -- I'm here.--

--No,-- she replies. --You're not.-- Her lips are shriveled, her eyes sunk in their sockets. --You're never here when I need you, Giles,-- she hisses from her lipless mouth, drawing out the 's' on the end of his name like a curse and accusation and a plea, all in one.

--I, I,-- he stammers, --I have a life now.--

--I don't,-- she says. --You traded your life for mine. For mine, for Tara's...- -

--No!-- He stumbles to his feet, backs away. The corpse that was Buffy follows, a hunter bent on her prey, trailing slime and maggots and gravedust in her wake.

--No!-- he screams again, running for the door.

He slams it behind him, and for the moment, he is safe, but he can hear her coming. Death, inexorable, is coming for him.


Giles wakes with a start.

His face is pressed against the pages of a book. He is so close to it he cannot read the text, and at first he fears it's another nightmare, the one that's haunted him since childhood, that he has all the books in the world and cannot read them. He thinks he could handle that dream now, be unaffected by it, after the nightly parade of dead women.

He rises slowly, feeling his age as his limbs creak and crack. He pinches the bridge of his nose before settling his glasses there, and begins shelving books. That is the only control he has now, in a world gone mad.

At first he notices nothing amiss, but as he puts away Mary Shelley's "Tithonus", he frowns. The next book is "The Lost Road" by J.R.R. Tolkien, which he vaguely recalls reading about, and the next after that is something he knows does not exist -- "Carmichael" by JD Salinger. The cover trumpets Salinger's return from his self-imposed exile, and Giles knows that has not happened and probably never will.

"I'm still dreaming."

He says it aloud and looks around furtively, afraid that if he disturbs anything, he will wake. He roams the stacks like a kid in a candy store -- intrigued, delighted, downright gleeful at some of the books he finds, including "A Biography of Buffy Summers, Slayer (Ret.)" by Rupert Giles.

He doesn't want to leave, resolves somehow to stay. Because this is everything he's ever wanted; there is no blood on his hands here, no regrets, no lost loves or wasted opportunities.

He can leave the past behind and become whatever he wants to be here, a grocer, a fighter pilot... a librarian.

It suits him, he thinks, being a librarian. There is order in it, and he has come, after long acquaintance with Chaos and its minions, to appreciate Order.

"I'm afraid there's only room for one librarian here, Mr. Giles."

He starts at the voice, and turns to see a tall thin man with glasses approaching.

"And you are?"

"The librarian. Lucien."

"Ah. I see."

Lucien takes Buffy's biography from Giles' hand. "Interesting. You realize that if you stayed here, this would never be written."

"It will never be written in any case," Giles responds. "I know what place this is."

Lucien nods. "Yes, I suppose you would. But there may be things in here that will only happen if you're there."

"You're saying Buffy needs me? I already know that."

"Then why do you wish to stay here?"

"Because--" Giles begins, then stops in frustration. Such a simple question, and yet the easy answer seems too easy, too pat. No fear, no grief, no pain, no death.

"Death comes for us all in the end, Mr. Giles," Lucien says.

Giles can feel the second cliché hanging in the air between them, unspoken. He's surprised it isn't written there in ornate gold lettering, given the nature of the place.

"Will I remember this when I wake up?" he asks after the silence stretches into discomfort.

Lucien shrugs. "I have no control of that. You'll most likely remember whatever it is you need to do what you have to do."

"Bloody hell."


Giles nods toward the book in Lucien's hand. "So tell me, how does it all turn out?"

But Lucien is gone.

The library fades, and Giles wakes.

He looks at the clock on the nightstand. Six thirty-five am. ĪSomeone will be awake,' he thinks as he dials Buffy's number.

"Dawn? Don't you have school in the morning? Is Buffy there? No? Okay. Tell her -- tell her, I'm coming home."


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