So, I decided to change Dark Age pretty significantly. The whole thing spins out of control when they don't hear Phillip getting murdered because Buffy's playing loud "music" while exercising, and clearly in this story Buffy has enhanced Slayer senses that would warn her of evil times approaching. I'm not sure I like how it turned out, but I did completely skip having Giles endanger Jenny. Unnecessary in this story arc.

Disclaimer: Not mine.

Chapter Six: The Dark Age

The evidence was overwhelming: Giles used to be a bad ass.

"This is so weird," Willow muttered, looking over their compiled info one more time. "He's so tweedy now, you'd never know he used to wear spiky leather jackets."

"Man, look at this arrest report. They peed on a cop after tripping him. Then they threw up," Xander stared at the paper in his hands. "Giles partied hard."

"It's kind of nice, knowing that even Giles screwed up as a kid," Buffy remarked. "Other than the one guy disappearing, they mostly just got into trouble for disorderly type things. Still, Giles is really not someone I'd expect to find passed out on top of a pool table, wearing a tutu, after he broke into a bar."

"Bucket listed," Xander muttered, snatching the report from Buffy's hands. "Guys, he also fleeced a gang member for about a thousand pounds at that pool table, look."

"Please don't emulate too many of Giles' exploits," Willow said, giving Xander a stern look.

"Hey, I'm great at pool. Think of how many snacks would could buy if we hustled pool a couple nights a week," Xander said, smirking cockily.

"Alright, sharky, we'll see how good you are at the Bronze tonight," Buffy leaned forward, meeting Xander's eyes in challenge.

"Oh, I could show you how good I am anytime, anywhere," Xander's voice was a husky growl.

"Ummm…can you guys assert dominance over each other later? After we finish figuring out what to do about Giles?" Willow said, a frown forming.

Buffy snapped out of it, sitting back in her chair abruptly. Who knew Xander could be so sexy?

NO! Not again, brain! Stop it. Bad thoughts, bad thoughts, bad thoughts.

"So, now that we've exposed Giles' oldest, darkest secrets and invaded his privacy to a beyond inappropriate degree, what should we do about it?" Willow asked.

"I vote Buffy confronts him," Xander said, half raising his hand.

"Seconded," Willow said, nodding.

"Giles, we need to talk," Buffy sat down across the table from him, reaching over and closing the book he was working with.

"Some trouble on patrol last night?" Giles asked.

"We know about Ethan."

Giles blanched white, and gaped at her.

"You dropped out of college for a year, got mixed up in a bad crowd, and have a sealed arrest record back in Jolly Old. Willow found the records online, everybody's digitizing everything these days," Buffy explained. "So your ex-buddy came to town and cursed all of us, I guess as his way of saying 'what's up' and you, for some bizarro reason decided against telling your faithful Slayer who loves you dearly about what really went down."

"Buffy…I suppose it's no good denying any of this," Giles sighed, removing his glasses and massaging his forehead. "My father was not the kindest of men, and I wanted to be nothing like him. I rebelled against my destiny as a future Watcher. It ended badly. You are my responsibility, I don't want to burden you with my mistakes."

"Giles. I'm the Slayer, hating on my destiny is my specialty. I get it," Buffy reached over and let her hand rest on his arm. "You were only, like, twenty. Lots of people do way worse, when they're older and supposedly more responsible."

"No, Buffy," Giles shook his head, shoving his chair back and striding to his office. He brought out a photo album, dusty and a bit tattered. "I keep these to remind myself of the terrible cost of playing with magics beyond our control."

He placed the album in front of her, opening it and pointing to the first picture. It was a group of young punks, Giles among them, along with Ethan, three other men and a woman. "This was Randall. He died after my friends and I decided it would be a good idea to invite a demon into our bodies. This isn't some youthful indiscretion, it was unforgiveable."

"Giles," Buffy trailed off. They found out about Randall going missing, but were unable to find any clues as to what happened.

"This is not your battle. This is my history, my life. Stay out of it," Giles snapped, grabbing the album and turning to storm out.

"Wait!" Buffy grabbed him.

"No, I'll be leaving now," Giles yanked away.

"No, you'll be following me because somebody is about to get murdered if I don't move," Buffy took off running, bursting through the doors and glancing around.

"Help! Somebody help!"

The shouts came from outside. She ran towards the sound, slamming a door open just before a man reached it. A shambling corpse, gross and decomposing, followed close behind him. "Get inside!" Buffy grabbed him and shoved him behind her. "Gross much?" She slammed the door and locked it, then dragged the man toward the library.

"Phillip?" Giles gasped out as Buffy shoved the man into the room.

"Giles! Thank god," Phillip stumbled a bit and then sat heavily at the table. "He's back. He's already taken Diedre and Thomas. I came to warn you."

"Who? Giles, what is going on?"

"Ehygon. The demon that we…consorted with," Giles sank into a chair, weariness clear on his face.

"How do I kill it?"

The corpse-demon thing was gone, and Giles was sulking in the bookshelves somewhere. Willow and Xander were helping Phillip and Buffy scour the library for ideas. So far they had beheading and hummus as possible solutions, but she was pretty sure Xander mistranslated the part about hummus.

"Well, so far we've got cross our fingers and hope," Xander said dejectedly, slumping at the table. "How can we kill something that will just jump into the next dead body when in danger? It's not like there's a dearth of dead bodies in Sunnyhell."

"Mostly, we're just not going to make it to the Bronze tonight. Ultimate showdown of pool skills will need to wait," Buffy said, sighing.

"Oh! Oooh! I have an idea!" Willow suddenly jumped up, waving her hand in excitement.

"Yes, Miss Rosenberg, you may share with the class," Xander teased, tapping her hand. Willow let it fall to her side, blushing a bit.

"Well, what if we put its host in danger, and then have a dead body ready for it to go into? And maybe the dead body isn't actually vacant," Willow explained.

"Vampire? You think the vamp demon could kill Ehygosh?" Buffy perked up.

"Well, if nothing else, it might keep old Ehygon distracted long enough for you to behead him," Xander said, emphasizing the pronunciation.

"I get to live-catch another vampire? Fun!"

"Buffy, don't be ridiculous, it is far too dangerous!" Giles strode over, all rumpled and overwrought. "Ehygon is ancient and clever, he won't simply roll over. It would be nearly impossible to keep him in the host long enough for him to actually die. At the first touch of a blade, he'd be gone."

"What about a binding spell, bound to the vampire in question?" Phillip stepped forward, slightly nervous. "I don't…dabble…anymore, but I believe if cast a strong enough binding and activate it as Ehygon enters a new host, we can hold him long enough for the Slayer to deliver the final blow."

"I'm sold. Tomorrow night, we find Ehygolly and take him out," Buffy decided. "You two get everything you need for the binding together, and have Willow help you. Xander can help me round up a vamp tonight. Nobody goes anywhere alone until we take him out, and remember to avoid his goo. That one book said he uses it to occupy new hosts."

"I suppose I won't be given a choice in this, then?" Giles grumbled. "Alright, let's retire to my home, and get to work. I should have everything we'll need."

"C'mon, Scruffy, let's do this," Buffy grabbed a heavy chain and pulled Xander towards the door. Willow watched them go, a feeling of dread sinking in her stomach.

"So, you, me, and a pool table this Saturday. Sound good?" Buffy bumped elbows with Xander, smiling up at him. So tall. His shoulders have been filling out lately with all the extra weapons work…nope, no, stop it Buffy-brain!

"Well, if you think you can handle me," Xander said, winking at her. Buffy's eyebrows went up; confident-Xander was still a novel experience.

"Oh, I can handle. I can handle all night, just you…nope, never mind," Buffy stopped herself from finishing the accidentally dirty sentence. "Can we pretend I never said any of that?"

"Definitely not," Xander said.

Then he slumped and fell to the ground. Before Buffy could react, she felt a pinch in her neck, and pulled a dart off herself. Glaring around, she fought off the slight wooziness and focused, reaching out with her senses. Then, she snatched two more darts from the air before getting hit three more times. Growling sleepily, she started to fall over.

"Bloody slayers, so difficult to tranquilize. C'mon, Summers. Let's see how you take to tattoos," Ethan Rayne walked from his hiding place across the cemetery, stepping over Xander's prone body and slinging Buffy across his shoulder.

"Buffy…" Xander muttered, trying to get up. That ass monkey was taking her! C'mon, Xandman, get up getup getup get…up…sleepy…

"Now, now, Slayer, no need to struggle," Ethan patted Buffy on the head, wiping the fresh tattoo and giving it one more look. He put the needle to the side with a satisfied hum, "I missed my calling as an artist."

"Why are you doing this? I can help you, we can protect you," Buffy growled, jerking the rope against the nail again and again. "We have a plan to take Ehygon out!"

"Oh, but it is so much safer for me to leave you marked and disappear before the demon knows any better," Ethan said, picking up the bottle of acid. "Don't worry, this one's for me."

"Ethan, we can help you. I'm the Slayer, it's my job to protect humans from demons," Buffy tried again, the rope almost gone now, as Ethan poured the acid directly on his skin and hissed in pain. "That's so gross, by the way."

"Ethan! You absolute bloody bastard!" Giles burst into the room, a sword in hand and disheveled hair sticking up at odd angles. He rushed forward, pinning Ethan to the wall and holding the sword across his throat. "If any harm comes to her I'll kill you."

"Giles, it's OK. Mom won't be too happy if she notices the new ink, but everything else should be fine," Buffy said, breaking free of the ropes and rushing over to keep Giles from killing Ethan.

"You piece of miserable shit, how dare you endanger Buffy? I should string you up," Giles pressed forward, the sword drawing a thin line of blood across Ethan's throat.

"Oh, dear, Watcher, you seem to be inappropriately attached to your weapon," Ethan choked out, a twisted smile on his face. "You know how the Council frowns on Watchers that actually care for their charges. However will you handle their tests?"

"Giles, don't kill him," Buffy pulled Giles back, forcing him to drop the sword.

"Yes, listen to the little girl," Ethan sneered.


Buffy's fist connected with his nose in a satisfying crunch, and she smiled as he slithered to the floor. "Let's grab him and head back to the library. Did you guys get everything ready? I'm going to need to head underground to get my vampire."

"Yes, everything is ready, but, Buffy…I'm so sorry that you were hurt," Giles pulled her into a surprisingly tight hug.

"Buffy! You're alright!" Willow raced across the library to hug her, completely ignoring the trussed up vampire Buffy dragged behind her.

"Buffster!" Xander rushed over, wrapping both girls in a hug and lifting them off the floor a few inches.

"Your sentimental rubbish is turning my stomach, can't you do that somewhere else?" Ethan grumbled, leaning against the locked gate of the cage.

"Well, now that we have all the remaining people marked by Ehygon in one place, I'm sure he'll be along soon," Phillip said, holding a page of notes on the incantation.

"Yes, let's all be prepared," Giles said, hovering behind the counter. The ritual was set up back there, out of sight. One incantation and a lit candle, and Ehygon would be bound.

"What's going on? Slayer! Let me go!" The vampire started to wake up, struggling against the chains that bound him.

"Not yet, Dusty," Buffy said, perching herself on the table, a sword balanced across her lap.

Time passed. Donuts were eaten.

A crash from the hallway drew all of their attention, and a feeling of foreboding fell over the room. The library doors burst open, and a clearly possessed man staggered into the room. "You fools, you cannot hide from me! I will have you!"

"Not gonna happen, Ehygant!" Buffy hopped up, putting herself between the corpse and the others. The demon roared, charging her. She ducked, kicking him as he passed. With an enrage yell he turned and tackled her, knocking her back into a bookshelf. Buffy got an arm loose and elbowed him hard in the gut, twisting around and pinning him against the wall. Willow and Xander started dragging the vampire closer, leaving him just behind Buffy as she started to strangle the possessed man.

Just as he passed out, a blurring shape faded from him and into the vamp. Giles lit the candle and shouted an phrase in Sumerian as Phillip tossed the sword to Buffy. As the two demons in one corpse started to fight, Buffy turned and swung the sword down, severing its head. A long scream echoed through the room, the body catching fire and burning an eery green before evaporating.

"Boom. Done," Buffy said, grinning. "Now, I'll just have to find a doctor that can remove tattoos and won't tell my mom."

"Oh, I'll have the Council take care of it, it's the least they can do," Giles said dismissively, wiping off his glasses.

"Bright side, weekend computer class got postponed until next weekend," Xander said. "Thanks for sweet talking Ms. Calendar for us, Giles."

"Ah, well, I explained there would likely be some trouble on campus this weekend, so she agreed it would be better to wait. I'll be telling her about all this at dinner tonight," Giles said, shifting nervously. Buffy walked over and hugged him.

"Don't worry, Giles, she'll understand," she said. "Probably just like you more once she knows you're a reformed bad boy."

They set about tidying the library, cleaning up melted wax and putting away books. Ethan complained bitterly the entire time, of course, locked in his cage. "Are you planning to keep me here indefinitely?"

"Oh, no, the Council team will be picking you up within the hour. I made sure to call the LA office as soon as Buffy went missing," Giles said, smiling pleasantly at him. "They don't take kindly to warlocks interfering with the Slayer. Oh, I should call and ask for someone who can help with the tattoo, now I think of it. Be back in a jiff."

"What? Ripper, don't do this! They'll put me in one of their blasted prisons and try to rehabilitate me! I don't want to be rehabilitated," Ethan yelled after him as Giles went into his office and dialed the Council.

"Man, this feels almost anticlimactic," Xander said, picking up a donut and staring at it thoughtfully. After a second, he stuffed half of it in his mouth. "Mmm, sugar."

"Well, we still need to hit the Bronze tonight, so I can destroy you at pool," Buffy teased, poking his side as she walked over to Willow. "You guys free?"

"You're going down, Slayer!" Xander said, spraying a few crumbs.

"First, gross Xander. Second, yeah, of course I am. Apparently Cordelia's boy toy's band is playing tonight and they're pretty good," Willow said.

"A bribed dermatologist is coming along to provide treatment for you, Buffy," Giles said, reentering the room. "Given your accelerated healing, it should be possible to completely remove the tattoo in one session, with short breaks. If you meditate and focus your energy, your healing will be more than fast enough."

"Oh goodie," Buffy grumbled.

Ethan was gone, Buffy's back was bandaged and the Scoobies were dressed in their Bronze-iest outfits. The band was pretty good, despite seeming to only know a few chords and Giles even gave them a ride over before going to pick up Ms. Calendar. He was helpfully financing victory snacks, and in an especially good mood now that Ethan was in custody. Phillip hopped on the first plane to England, eager to get back to his job and family, though he and Giles agreed to actually stay in touch now.

Buffy and Xander were locked in a serious duel at the pool table while Willow alternated watching them and eyeing the cute guitarist on stage. She was pretty sure he'd been looking at her!

"Oh, what's up? What! Is! UP!" Xander raised his fists in victory, circling the table to stand in front of Buffy. "Who just won? Yeah, I did! Ha!"

"Yeah, yeah, by one ball," Buffy grumbled, crossing her arms and pouting.

"See, we could totally hustle pool and earn sweet cash," Xander said, throwing an arm over her shoulder. "Think of all the opportunities…"

His hand stretched out in front of them, gesturing to an imaginary field of wishes.

"You're lucky I like you," Buffy said, pulling away and going over to the table. "Willow, want to dance?"

"Ooh, yeah. Hey, you see the guitarist?" Willow bounced up, following Buffy out while Xander shrugged and settled in at the table.

"yeah, he's cute," Buffy said, grinning. "You like?"

"Yeah, maybe, I guess. I think he was looking at me," Willow blushed, then threw herself into bopping to the music alongside Buffy.

Laughing from joy, the two girls bounced around the dance floor, far more interested in having fun together than any of the boys around them. A couple guys tried to cut in, but found themselves shoved away and then ignored. After a while Xander made his way over to join in the carefree, uncoordinated flailing.

"Wills! He's definitely looking at you," Buffy grabbed Willow's shoulder and whispered in her ear. "He goes to school with us, right?"

"I've seen him around a couple times," Willow said.

"You should talk to him some time, he's clearly feeling the Willow goodness," Buffy said, elbowing her friend lightly. "Ooh, vamp, two o'clock! Be right back, guys!"

Buffy followed the vampire and her intended victim outside, sneering as the poor guy fell all over himself to keep up with the sultry vamp. Ugh, men. So predictable.

AN: Ughhhhh, I'm not sure I like this chapter.

Whatever. Might be a filler chapter again next, or I could go right to assassin fun times. Eh.

I just started a new, totally awesome job, so my updates will be slowing down a bit. Hopefully I'll finish another chapter this weekend though.

Timeline, just for the overthinkers: Phillip does not die on Thursday night, they plot and plan on Friday, and kill Eyhgon on Saturday, before partying at the Bronze that night.

Heroes: SSSra, Sean, Chi Vayne, Mike3207, James Birdsong, BizarreBard, Rebel4ever13, WanderingDragonborn