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Would you believe that I am still writing this?

Yes, I'm horrified, too.

In fact, it may get weirder. Stargate weirder. But that's still in the theoretical stages. Gods-willing, it will die in its infancy and I will be freed from its evil grasp.

...No, I don't really mean that. I love my evil uberfic. It's like Stockholm Syndrome.

I'm not even cutting it. Because I'm that far-gone. And malicious. *evil cackle*

===

In more than one way, the building was a shambles. A wreck, a heap, a mess. Rubble. All the words one can apply to something that was once a building, but isn't, any longer.

Giles had not expected to feel bothered by the sight; he had been warned, of course. He had known, very quickly afterward, about the bomb. He had been prepared, by the Delegates, for something like this.

He had not been prepared to feel loss.

He stood at the border of the estate for some minutes, frozen by the sight. He had never realized just how deeply into his consciousness the profile of the building had been etched, surrounded by stables and trees. He supposed it had always been the only real solid place in an otherwise chaotic youth. It was the place that had made him an adult, after a somewhat sudden re-adjustment to the idea. He was certainly an adult now, but the sight of the destroyed building made him feel, once again, all at once, somewhat at loose ends. It had been a long time since he had assigned this place any position in his identity, and yet standing here, he felt very small, very vulnerable.

Very dependent on the six people standing next to him.

He had always thought, though never admitted to himself, consciously, that to be rooted in people, rather than a place, lacked maturity. He imagined that was something that had been impressed upon him very young. It was probably why, at seventeen, his idea of rebellion had included fleeing Oxford and taking to the streets of London with a group of similarly malcontent witches. A building, in his mind, or in what had been built around his mind by his elders, with intent, was a more real thing than a friendship. Ironically, he was back to the opposite, to people, rather than a place, being his anchor. Of course this, among other things, he would also never say aloud. Mostly because otherwise he would be altogether anchorless. At this point he was not certain that that was something he could handle.

Too much had happened.

He did not know what the others were thinking - Willow and Xander had no such intimate connection to the ruin before them. Matt Hamilton may have had more knowledge of the circumstances, but he was still an outsider. The teenagers were even more inscrutable; both Phillips children were being cautious, now, though. He knew they were shielding carefully, something that seemed a habit among the Delegates, outside the relative safety of the Island.

Andraia Henley, the sixth Delegate assigned their team, was calm, serene, and very pretty. Giles supposed her to be approximately his own age, and had surprised himself upon their introduction, a few days ago, by being impressed enough by her smile to be caught staring, and although she'd let it go with a reassuring smirk, he was still, rather unsuccessfully, avoiding eye contact. Doctor Henley - for she had been introduced under the honorific - was sociable, well-read, and charming. She was also, he could tell, rather amused by his discomfort, but too good-natured to question it excessively.

She was the first person to speak, in a gently chiding tone, after several minutes of a silence filled only with the chirping of insects. "We should move on," she said.

Giles started, and turned to look at her; she wore a concerned but businesslike expression. "Yes," he acknowledged, drawing himself straight. "We should." He adjusted his coat, and stepped over the ruined wall. The others followed him, across the debris-scattered and fire-charred grass, picking their way slowly towards the ruin of the buildings.

The destruction was thorough. But to his marginal relief, it seemed mostly limited to the ground floor and the upper stories. The aim had been, it appeared, what they suspected: the decimation of people, not objects. The former had been accomplished with devastating accuracy. The hope for the survival of the latter was what had brought them.

The Archive. Always described in casually reverent tones, as though reverence were so commonplace that it no longer warranted a pause. A massive room, a series of rooms, many metres below the foundation of the building. The sanctuary that had harboured the research of generations of Watchers.

In the rational, sober part of his mind, he was aware of a deep, abiding hatred for the place.

The Archive was not only books, but that was its primary component. Hundreds upon hundreds of books, ranging from pre-Christian Aramaic to post-Imperial Roman to Anglo-Saxon. Unreadable, as a group, but by a handful of scholars, most of whom had died in the destruction of the building which housed them.

Altogether, more valuable than gold, diamonds, and the advent of cold fusion.

He really, really hated it here.

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chandri
Chandri MacLeod
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