Dying In Slow Motion

by Dormouse

Recipient:ALC Punk
Song:"Stunt Show" by Something for Kate
Fandom:'Buffy the Vampire Slayer', AU of 'Grave'
Word Count:1724

She hated leaving Giles by himself. Okay, so warning Buffy was important in a saving-the-world kind of way, but Giles was dying. Anya felt as if her world had stopped when he came back, full of heroism and power. Everything after that, up until Willow left the Magic Box, had felt somehow disconnected. As if she had been watching someone else's life from the outside.

Giles had come back. He came back to save the world, but he must have been a little bit pleased to see Anya too. Even if he had noticed Buffy's hair, and not hers, until she prompted him. Damn, but she hated leaving him, even for a few minutes. No one deserved to die alone, especially not Giles.

Anya told Buffy all she needed to know, and then she skedaddled back to the shop, and Giles. He was not dead yet, she realised, after another heart-stopping moment as she sank to her knees beside him. That was pleasing, and she needed him to stay that way.

In times of crisis it could help to speak one's mind about matters that had been bottled up far too long. Anya took a breath.

"You can't die now," she said. There was a rumble overhead, and pieces of the crumbling ceiling pelted down on them. Anya ducked her head down, and tried to shield Giles from the worst of it. "You can't," she repeated. "There are things I need to tell you."


So this was what dying felt like, Giles thought. He seemed to remember thinking something similar a few minutes earlier, but if it was going to take this long he might as well catalogue the experience.

Anya was crying, the sweet girl. He could feel dampness on her cheeks where they brushed his as she tried to shelter him from the falling masonry. Given Anya's history, she might be crying about the world ending, and her own imminent death, rather than because of him. Giles tried to make sense of the words pouring from her.

He could still see and hear Willow, and feel her pain, but Anya's declaration -- and he did wonder if he was imagining that she had just used the word 'love' -- was triggering a series of memories of happier times.

The day the shop opened, when only Anya had the energy to cash up after closing.

Every time she smiled, and the room lit up, because she had pulled off a tricky sale.

The way she had pushed him after Buffy's death, not to leave, but to make a decision.

The kiss they shared under Willow's spell. He would have stayed in Sunnydale then, if that had been real.

Giles dreamed that Anya was kissing him now.

On the other side of town, Xander reasoned with Willow, and she broke down sobbing in his arms.


"So you can't die," Anya concluded. "Not for a very long time. I don't want you to die ever, but I can't have that, so I'll settle for a few decades." Then she did the only thing that seemed appropriate, and kissed him.

She kept her eyes closed as she pulled away from him, not daring to wish -- to hope -- that this would be a fairytale moment and Giles would make a miraculous recovery. He had tried so hard in the years she had known him to do the right thing, no matter how difficult. They had all relied on him to save them, and he had always been there. This time, though, he had gone too far.


She opened her eyes, not quite believing that Giles had just spoken.

He smiled weakly up at her.

"Giles!" Anya said. "You're still alive."

"Still." His smile widened a fraction. "And the world hasn't ended."

"But how?" She had been so certain that he had tried too hard, and inadvertently caused all their deaths. "What did you do? I thought you were dying."

"I was." It seemed to hurt him to talk, but he continued. "Then Xander stopped Willow."


Anya appeared to be having trouble taking the news in.

Giles had not believed that anyone could stop Willow, even as he had watched Xander reason with her.

It was all over now. The world went on as it always had. Only those touched directly by the crisis were changed.

"Xander stopped her," Giles said again.

"Go Xander," Anya said, in a bright tone not mirrored by her eyes. "If the world's not ending, and you're not dying, where does that leave me?"

"In what way?" Giles sat up slowly, trying not to wince. Anya was worried enough, without recognising that his survival was by no means guaranteed.

"Look around you. I don't know how we're going to claim this on insurance -- you do have insurance? And no pesky get-out clauses that exclude magical damage?"

"The money won't be a problem." It might well be, but he would worry about that later. If Anya wanted to rebuild the shop, they would find a way.

"I suppose you'll leave me here, and go back to England; even though I told you..." Anya looked as if she might start crying again.

"That all depends." Giles said. "What do you want to do?"


"Well," Anya said. She still had some difficulty believing that everything was turning out fine, and all thanks to Xander too. "The shop's doing really well. I'm putting in extra hours, even though I've got two jobs now. I'm sorry about that, by the way. If you'd come to my wedding that wasn't, maybe I would have had something else to fall back upon."

She took a deep breath, and counted to ten. Now was not the time to get angry with Giles. He had not known that her dreams would turn to ashes, and that she could really have done with someone -- someone human -- to comfort her on what should have been her wedding night.

"Anya," Giles reached across, and took her hand. "I'm sorry I..." He winced.

"You're still hurt." She gave his hand a squeeze. "You should lie down while I call help." She studied the destruction surrounding them. "I don't think we have a telephone anymore. Maybe we should just wait here for Buffy to get back." A worrisome thought occurred to her. "You're not thinking of dying before that, are you?"

"I'll try not to," Giles said. "But you haven't answered my question."

"I don't know." So much had changed; this was no time to make another hasty decision. "You should rest until help arrives." She leaned down and kissed him. "I'll stay here and watch over you."

"Wake me up if there's another apocalypse."

It was a change for the better, Anya decided. She had told Giles how she felt, he seemed at least a little pleased with the idea, and the shop seemed to have stopped crumbling around them for the time being. Also it was kind of peaceful watching her love rest like this. So long as he was definitely resting, and not dying.


Giles knew that nothing in their immediate future was likely to be simple. The coven had sent him to stop Willow, and they expected him to bring her back to Devon with him, if she survived the fight. He was glad that Willow was alive, and that she could be saved. He was less sure, however, that he wanted to leave Anya in America, now that he knew where he stood with her.

Giles could arrange for Anya to accompany them without much difficulty, if that was what she wanted. And if the coven objected to having a vengeance demon in their midst, then Giles would smooth things over somehow. He and Anya would not have to stay with the coven, although Giles should be on hand in case Willow needed him.

There had always been friction between Anya and Willow, usually over Xander, but all that was surely in the past now. Today could mark a turning point for both of them. Willow needed to learn to harness her magic, and to grieve for Tara; Anya needed to find her place in the world - as human, or demon. Giles hoped he had enough strength to support them both, and to prevent them coming to blows.

First, though, he needed Anya to make the decision to go with him. It had to be her decision, unprompted by him. He gave her hand a squeeze, and looked into her eyes.

"I love you too," he said.

"I'd kind of worked that out," Anya said. "But thank you for the confirmation." She clasped her free hand around their entwined hands. "You should rest some more now. We can talk details later."


"Will my apartment be big enough?" she mused some time later. Watching over Giles had given her time to think about practical matters. She would go into this relationship with her eyes wide open, and all possible problems identified, and prepared for.

"Big enough for what?" Giles murmured, not opening his eyes.

"For all your books. We can keep them in the shop once it's rebuilt, but until then -- "

Giles sat up, and looked at Anya in puzzlement. Doubly puzzled, she thought, since he had no glasses to clean.

"I know it's going to take a while for your books to get back over here," she said. "But we have to consider that the structural repairs could take even longer." She watched him, wondering if she had misunderstood their previous, somewhat disjointed conversation.

"I have to go back to England," he said. "Willow needs someone familiar around while the coven helps her recover."

"So you're just going to stand around watching?" Anya asked. "Haven't you done that your whole life?"

"You could put it that way," Giles said. "I rather hoped -- "

" -- I know," Anya interrupted, as the solution occurred to her. "Xander can do it. You can stay here and oversee the building work with me. Xander can go to England with Willow." She heard a noise behind her, and turned to see the pair in question entering the remains of the shop. It was tricky telling whether Xander was holding Willow up, or whether it was the other way around. Either way, they seemed somehow content to be supporting each other.

"Problem solved," Anya said, kissing Rupert again.

Stunt Show

Something For Kate

        You hold me in mid air
        And you keep me
        A measure from impact
        You stop and ask me
        If the ringing in your ears might be the sound of thought
        You're like a long slow accident
        Time stood still while motion emptied you out
        And I watched you like a slide show
        1, 2, 3, 4
        And there you go
        We all stop and stare
        From start to finish
        Yeah we're measuring again
        You keep trying to show us
        How you can carry fifty times your own weight
        You've got a whole new story
        But your bound to your invention like a ball and chain
        And I watched you
        Like a stunt show
        Hold my breath
        And here we go
        How will you get yourself out of this one
        You stand by watching
        And this is how your life is turning out
        How will you get yourself out of this one
        Yeah you stand by watching
        And this is how your life is turning out
        How will you get yourself out of this one
        Yeah you stand by watching
        And this is how your life is turning out
        How will you get yourself out of this one
        Yeah you stand by watching
        And this is how your life is turning out*