|The Ties That Bind
Author: LoreoftheFaye PM
Sequel to the "Of Faith And Sin" multi chapter fic. Gorgolek is dead and Buffy's pregnant. Can Watcher and Slayer make a romance work with the Council against them and a mysterious new threat hanging overhead?Rated: Fiction M - English - Romance/Supernatural - Buffy S. & R. Giles - Chapters: 10 - Words: 25,054 - Reviews: 26 - Favs: 13 - Follows: 26 - Updated: 01-24-13 - Published: 01-27-11 - id: 6691458
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Despite his knowledge to the contrary the word hell had always evoked in Rupert the Sunday school image of fire and brimstone and infinite torture at the hands of a sadistic keeper. Now he knew that hell did not just define one place but rather a multitude of them, each existing in their own space and comprised of their own separate landscapes and beings. At the moment, though, the hell he was in appeared remarkably similar to those first images he was presented as a boy. The land now surveyed was uncomfortably hot with a red glow around him and rocky crags thrust out of the ground like formidable giants that dared him to cross. He saw no red imps with pitchforks but that was not enough cause to think he was safe here, by any means.
His love and daughter were the only things that mattered to him now. As much as he wanted to cry out for them he didn't dare, not until he knew what dangers lay in waiting. He didn't want to stray too far from his point of entry, either, or he'd risk losing sight of where the portal would open up again in so few minutes he wondered if it was enough time to be successful. If he missed this ticket home he'd risk them all here, forever.
Then came the unsettling thought that perhaps time worked differently in this hell as it often did in other dimensions. If that was so thirty minutes could be an instant or an eternity. No, he silently chided himself, do not give in to fear. Supposition would not help him find his loved ones and it certainly would not get him home. The best course of action, the only one afforded to him, was to find them as quickly as possible by whatever means necessary. This meant taking the risk of shouting.
No matter if the sound echoed along the barren landscape much farther than he'd like. He strained his hearing for some reply that didn't come. Then he heard it, a high-pitched wail like that of a newborn child. He was running before he was conscious of what he heard, shouting for Buffy to tell him where she was and praying that they were still together. If they weren't he wasn't sure what he'd do.
There, off to his left. He slowed, adjusting his course to follow the sound.
"Dearest, where are you?"
He saw blond hair sticking out from under a rock and his heart fell. He was sure she'd been crushed in this god-forsaken place and didn't see his daughter. Had she been taken?
"Buffy?" He scrambled to get to her and only when he was closer did he hear her moan. "Christ, Buffy, are you alright? Answer me dearest. Tell me you're alright."
When she managed to wriggle out from under the rock he let out a cry and held her tightly. For a split second he thought he'd lost her – one of only two things now that mattered most to him in the entire world. He'd never felt such heart wrenching misery before in his entire life. Not even when Jenny died had he felt so utterly abandoned, so alone and just plain defenseless. He had never been so angry, either, or lost control so thoroughly. Once he felt that she was real and solid in his arms his thoughts moved on to the secondary but no less compelling question.
"Where is our baby?"
"I hid her."
She leaned down and peered under the rock, a crevice not very big but enough for the Slayer and child to hide beneath. He looked as well and reached out for his daughter. He scooted her carefully until she could be reached to be picked up properly and then he held her in his arms for the first time.
"My baby," he cooed, "my beautiful little girl. I have been waiting a long time to meet you, darling, and you are more beautiful than I could have imagined. I promise I will always love you, always keep you safe and I will always put you and your mum first in my life."
He traced a fingertip down her tiny face. She opened her eyes and looked at him in wonder, cooing her approval of his vows. For a moment while looking at her he almost forgot where they were and how they came to be here. Everything melted away except his family and he meant what he said – they would always come first. He would always make sure they knew they were loved by him, endlessly. But then, of course, reality was not quite so kind. He was jerked back to it with a start as Buffy spoke.
"Oh my God, what happened?" Buffy finally spied the burnt remnants of his sleeves and the burned flesh of his right arm. He tried hiding it now as an afterthought but it was no use.
"They used magic on you?" She sounded horrified.
"No, no not quite. The other way round I'm afraid."
"I don't understand."
"We'll speak of it later."
"Wait, Buffy, how long have you been here?"
She looked at him quizzically. The complete change of subject out of the blue baffled her. "I don't know."
"Try, dearest, this is important."
"Maybe half an hour. It's hard to tell in this place. Nothing changes. It's sort of the last thing I was thinking about. Why?"
"Because Willow is opening the portal again in half an hour, Buffy, and we need to be prepared for it. We only get one shot to go back."
"So what's the good news?"
"I love you."
Though that was good news she knew it had to be pretty grim for him not to have a back up plan. He was Giles and always had a back up plan. He considered her with those beautiful jade eyes, full of concern.
"How strong are you feeling now?"
"Strong enough. I can manage."
"Buffy don't you ever, ever scare me like that again. My heart can't take it. I cannot lose you."
She thought about her kiss with Spike just before her labor set in and felt a pang of guilt. "You won't."
"No matter what get the baby and yourself out of here. We haven't met any of the locals yet and God willing we won't but…"
Murphy was happy to oblige the Watcher, a loud roar emerging from off to the right. Buffy immediately looked to the source, a bigger demon than she'd ever seen in her life was standing on the top of a rocky crag, a black outline against a red backdrop. It's snout was full of jagged teeth and its wicked claws were long and sharp looking. It's skin was a dingy brown that blended in and stood out from the landscape. It looked terrifying and she wanted to hold her baby closer. Giles did it for her, covering the little girl's head protectively.
"My God! Those are what Ethan wanted to unleash on the world."
"Bastard." Giles agreed, wishing he'd been able to offer Ethan his just desserts. He still might be able to if they ever got back. Buffy, wide eyed, stayed transfixed by the demon.
"Maybe it won't…"
But the baby wailed her fear and frustration with being hot and now cramped, the cry loosed over the ground and echoing as Giles' call had earlier. The demon immediately heard the foreign sound and turned its head their way. Being some distance off it didn't see them immediately, sheltered in the crags. His heart dropped, what could he do? He had to keep his family safe; that was the only thing. Cautiously he handed the baby to Buffy.
"Forgive me little one." He placed a gentle touch to the baby's forehead and coaxed her to sleep with magic. "The portal will appear right over there, Buffy. Get under the rock. When the demon is distracted you run as fast as you can. Make it through that portal. No matter what happens you make it through, do you hear me?"
Tears started spilling from her cheeks and she nodded. Grief wouldn't let her say a word. She knew what he aimed to do. He kissed her, pressing his lips in full against her own. When he pulled away he set his expression to grim resignation and nudged her toward her hiding place.
"It's been a privilege to love you, my darling."
She shook her head, protesting his ability to talk like that. He was coming with them. He had to come with them. She couldn't do any of this without him. Even as she crawled beneath the rock, baby in hand, she was protesting without words. All she could do was hold the sleeping baby close and watch in horror. Had she ever wished to be normal? Had she ever wanted a life like everyone else? Who would want this sense of hopelessness? Not her, surely.
Giles got up and moved out into the open ground to meet the demon even as it came down to find the source of that sound. There was power crackling around him again but not as bright as it had been before. The mind was willing but the body was faltering. Such power was not meant for human form for very long and he'd used a great burst of it in his righteous anger before. Buffy saw him and knew he'd struggle until his last breath…
No! Don't talk like that. He will live! He has to!
The demon was curious at first, its contact with humans a rare and fleeting thing. It didn't speak the language apparently though Giles was cursing up a British storm. So, too, did British swearing seem to be ineffective against hell dimension demons. It got angry with Giles and swatted him like a meddlesome fly, tossing the man a good ten feet. Buffy had to cover her mouth to prevent making some sort of sound to give her and her daughter away. It was hard because both of them were blocking the portal. She couldn't get to it without being spotted.
"Come on Giles, get him away," she whispered to herself. This felt like sacrifice, killing himself so that she and the baby could get away clean. It wasn't fair.
He forced himself up but she could see how hard that was for him even from her vantage. He looked at his opponent and blasted back a shock of magic.
"Is that the best you've got?" he taunted.
The demon seemed to understand that and roared, advancing. Giles kept backing up to get the demon to follow him. The demon's strides were much larger than his but that didn't matter. He could run if he had to but he needed to keep the demon interested until Buffy could get to the portal. That was the only thing he wanted, to live long enough to see her through. He kept throwing magic at it and though it didn't appear to be wounding the thing, or not so much that the wounds were visible, it kept the demon on his trail.
The portal opened, swirling, and Buffy moved from her hiding space and bolted toward it. Giles saw her and started attacking the demon in earnest to keep its attention from what could be very fast food. This didn't sit well with the thing and it roared again, differently, and a few roars answered in return before it went after its prey. Buffy faltered hearing that and looked over.
The demon grabbed Giles and flung him again over back in the direction they came from. It spied Buffy and sounded its call. The answer it received was closer this time. The Slayer shivered. "No." It was getting help. Giles didn't stand a chance and he was now lying on the ground. She didn't see him moving. It went against everything inside of her to leave him knowing he'd die. The demon picked him up by a leg and held him upside down, shaking him a little. The claw gripped tighter and she heard a crunch echo over the landscape and her lover screamed, awakened by the pain.
Willow fretted at the portal. This was the last shot they had and she did something reckless by using magic to try and keep it open as long as she could. It was a large and advanced bit of magic she was using to do it and it was draining her. Xander had gone to get his truck to drive to where they were. They needed something to get everyone to the hospital again. Spike saw two hands thrust through the portal, the baby lifted into their world. He took it, looking through to see Buffy there. Fear was written on her face.
"Spike! Take the baby! Please, take the baby."
"Bring her back!" he demanded in return. "Just step through the bloody portal."
"I can't…Giles…he going to die if I don't do something."
"Buffy…what can you even do for him the state you're in?"
"I have to try."
He reached out to take the infant, carefully cradling her to his cold body. He knew he couldn't talk her out of this and knew where her heart lay.
"I'll see her safe. I promise, Slayer."
Willow watched but had no idea what they were saying over the roar of the portal. She shouted to Spike.
"I can only keep it open a little while longer. Tell her to hurry up!"
Spike nodded and looked to Buffy. He handed her the sword he'd brought and she took it gratefully.
"You only have a few minutes until you're stuck there. Make the most of it, Buffy."
The blond nodded and though she wasn't at full strength she needed to protect her lover. Sword in hand she went back into the clearing away from the portal. Giles was protecting himself but he couldn't hold out much longer. The magic around him was weak and the demon knew it, continually batting at the barrier with its claws. She saw, too, that his leg was bloody and appeared to be at an odd angle.
She moved forward, flipping her sword in hand and getting a feel for it. The look on her face said everything.
"Buffy, what the bloody hell do you think you're doing?"
She spared him only a glance as she passed. The echoing roars were almost on top of them and then there would be no way to save either.
"I won't lose you, Giles. I've lost too much already." And another once she learned her mother had been killed.
A human with a sword was something the demon hadn't seen before. It was careful, swatting at Buffy to test the purpose of her toy. It didn't like the results. Though Buffy wasn't at her best for strength she was clever and focused and right now very determined. That made her an ample match for her opponent. It roared and attacked and she parried back, driving the demon away. It kept calling for its friends and the returns were closer all the time.
At least this dimension didn't seem densely populated.
The demon swept its claws at her and she ducked, driving her sword up through its arm. It's own momentum ripped the blade through its flesh and threw both weapon and wielder a distance away. Buffy landed heavily with a groan. She lay there dazed a moment and the demon charged her.
She froze for a second as it charged and Giles called to her, trying desperately to get to the woman he loved despite his uselessly mangled leg. He felt strong arms go around him lifting him up and was surprised to see Spike standing there.
"What are you doing? Help her! Help her, for God's sake!"
"I am. Getting you safe is what she wants. She can't take care of the demons and get you out at the same time."
The vampire started trying to help him toward the portal that was shrinking fast. It sent fresh waves of agony through his body and he grit his teeth. He spared a glance back at his beloved only to see the demon skewered on her sword and the Slayer getting from underneath it drenched in dark blood. She jogged over to them and helped get him through.
"Hurry! I can't hold it anymore!" Willow looked pale and shaken.
With a deafening boom her magic let go and the portal sucked them through before closing. All of them were thrown to the ground but most of them didn't move. Giles passed out from pain and strain. Willow was beyond exhausted with her efforts and was unconscious as well. Buffy groaned, pushing herself up. Her strength was coming back; she could feel it. Her eyes darted around for her child and settled on Xander sitting on the stone dais, hold the sleeping baby in his arms.
"Don't try to get up, Buff."
"She's fine. We're gonna get you guys to a hospital."
"We nothin'." Spike looked to the lightening eastern sky. He was cutting it so close he'd have to go to ground for the day. "It's a bit bright for me."
They all nodded solemnly and let him move off into the trees away from the light. Now there was only one able body among them and one Slayer pretending to be able. Xander took her to his car first and tucked her into the front seat with the baby, reclining it so she could rest. He was firm on that, resting, and for once she didn't argue. She just leaned back gratefully and slept while he went to go get the others.