Title: Dark Destinies
Distribution: Email me!
Feedback: Constructive criticism welcomed; flames happily ignored
Notes: This story takes place when Giles is still 10 and pondering his future as a Watcher. Yes, I'm screwing around with timelines a bit. Just bear with me.
Disclaimer: Any characters who aren't mine specifically belong to their respective creators, Whedon and Rowling. Grrrrr, arrgh.
"Mr. Rupert Giles!"
The young boy looked up, staring at the large woman who was calling his name. "Y-yes, Mrs., er, Robins?" he stammered. A lingering snigger rose from the rest of the class. Rupert clenched his teeth desperately as he tried to hide an old, leather-bound book from the teacher. Mrs. Robins squinted at Rupert's frantic motions, then swooped her flabby arm down to grab the book. Rupert's eyes widened. "No, Mrs. Robins. It's my, it's my father's"
Mrs. Robins lifted her reading glasses from where they hung around her neck and placed them on. "The Slayers Handbook," she read. "'Chapter the First, Informing Your Chosen One that She is the Chosen One'? What sort of rubbish is this, Mr. Giles?"
"It's notrubbish, Mrs. Robins. I've told you. It's, it's my father's," Rupert said, trying to keep his gaze away from the folds in Mrs. Robins's neck. They always seemed to sway rhythmically when she got angry. "I, he, gave it to me for my birthday. I was justlooking at it"
Mrs. Robins flipped through the book. "Weaponry? Wooden stakes? Swords? Battleaxes? Mr. Giles, this isn't appropriate reading for a ten year old boy! I'll have to take it."
"And you have detention after class, with the Headmaster," Mrs. Robins said in a clipped tone as she made her lumbering way back to her desk. She locked the book in her detention drawer, along with other confiscated goods. "In all my years of teaching, I have never seen such trash printed in a book."
"Mrs., Mrs. Robins?" Rupert squeaked.
"You're in no position to talk, Mr. Giles."
"I'm to meet my father after school today. It's very important. An appointment that I must keep. I can't, I can't have detention," Rupert pleaded.
"Well, Mr. Giles," Mrs. Robins said. "You should have thought of that before bringing such, such filth into my classroom."
"Yes, ma'am," Rupert said softly.
"Now class. Open your books, your math books, to page seventy-five and do the first two sections."
As Rupert pulled out a pencil and paper, he pondered what to tell his father. He had to call him, inform him that he wouldn't be able to come to the Council. Rupert rolled the pencil round and round in his small fingers, then, in a fit of sudden violence, he snapped the pencil in half.
"Mr. Giles, you're already in trouble. Are you attempting to add to it?" Mrs. Robins said.
"No, Mrs. Robins," Rupert sighed as he reached into his desk for another pencil. Once again, he was reminded of why he didn't want to become a teacher. Too many annoying children to look after.
"And you may use the school phone to ring up your father, tell him why you can't make your appointment. Here's a note," Mrs. Robins waved the small piece of paper in Rupert's direction. Take this to the office, and they'll let you use the phone."
Rupert stood up and walked slowly towards Mrs. Robins' desk. "Thank you," he said automatically before leaving the room.
"Dad? It's Rupert. Can you hear me? Well, sort of. I can't make it to" Rupert paused, realizing that one of the secretaries was right behind him, monitoring his use of the school's only phone. "to my appointment this afternoon. Why? I, er, I got detention. Yes. Yes, I know it's important, butMrs. Robins caught me reading the Handbook. It's in her desk now. I couldn't help it, Dad. It was interesting! No, I haven't gotten to Chapter the Seventeenth yet. What's that? You can do that? Really?" Rupert turned to the secretary. "Um, my father wants to speak to the Headmaster. Can he?"
The young secretary nodded quickly. "I'll get him," she said as she made her way down the corridor to Mr. Doranel's office.
"Yes, yes, no one's listening in now, Dad. I'm sorry, Dad. But you told me, you told me that if I were to become a WatcherWould we be able to get another Handbook from the Council? They don't give back the stuff they've taken until the end of term! Oh, here comes Headmaster Doranel," Rupert said as he saw the Headmaster coming towards him. "I'll give the phone to him now."
"Miss Keene, would you please leave us? I need to have some privacy," Headmaster Doranel said. As soon as he was sure that the secretary was out of sight, he took the receiver from Rupert's hand. "Hello, Stephen. Haven't heard from you in a while. Yes, young Rupert's still here with me. What? Detention? Oh, reading the Handbook in class. I see," he stared at Rupert. "Well, if it's the boy's first meeting with the Council, I'll see what I can do," he held the receiver out to Rupert. "Like to say a few more words to your father, Mr. Giles?"
Rupert nodded and took the receiver. "Dad, I'm really really sorry about all this trouble. Well, it's a bit much for a boy to handle, don't you think? Learning that vampires and magic and demons are real? Right, right, see you after school then. Bye" he hung up the phone. "Headmaster, I didn't know you"
"were a Watcher? There are more of us about than you think, Mr. Giles," Doranel said. "I figured that your father would tell you sooner or later. You've got the talent to become a great Watcher. You're clever, but a bit rash. Best to keep that anger of yours in check."
"Sir, do you have a Slayer in your charge?" Rupert asked.
"No," Doranel said. "But I think there might be one in this very school. She's not called until the current one dies, of course, but I've seen potential. Oh, yes, much potential."
"And about detention?"
"Oh, right, I'll just write a note, saying that your appointment is of the utmost urgency, which it is. Who knows, Mr. Giles, perhaps you might be the Chosen One's Watcher someday."
"I hope not," Rupert groaned. "I can't stand them."
"Can't stand what?"
"And the bit where you tore off the Sarrok demon's horn! You were marvelous, Dad!" Rupert jumped around, hardly containing his excitement. "Why didn't you tell me that this is what Watchers do? It's bloody marvelous!"
"Language, Rupert, please. You weren't raised in a livery stable," Stephen Giles replied to his son.
"Sorry, but you wereyou were fantastic! And the other Watchers chanting the spell to close that hell portal. Woah! I can't wait to start my training now!"
"It's not fun and games, son," Stephen said. "Being a Watcher takes discipline, intelligence, and patience. Before you can chant spells, you've got to know what they mean. You'll be studying ancient languages, cultures; you'll know more about the history of this world than anyone else in your class." Stephen opened the door to their modest home. "Get in, son, Mum'll have supper ready for us."
Rupert ran through the door, still giddy from witnessing his first encounter with the supernatural.
"Rupie!" a young voice squeaked below him.
Rupert winched at the sound of the voice. "Hullo, little Petunia," he droned.
"Not little!" Petunia Evans grumbled. "Almost three!"
"Bloody wonderful for you," Rupert replied, trying to keep his cousin Petunia from pulling his pants down. The little girl clung to him incessantly.
Margeret Giles clucked at her son. "Rupert, such language! Have you said hi to your Auntie Iris yet?"
Rupert shook his head.
"She's in the sitting room, with your new cousin!"
"Oh! She's brought the baby?" Rupert grinned widely. He liked babies, until they grew up to be toddlers, like Petunia. Rupert entered the sitting room, where his Aunt Iris awaited. "Hullo, Auntie Iris," said Rupert, placing a quick kiss on her cheek.
"Hello, Rupert. My, you're growing up to be a very smart young man," Iris Evans said in her quiet tone of voice. "Would you like to meet your new cousin?"
"Yes, yes please!" Rupert sidled up next to Iris, eyeing the tiny bundle in his aunt's capable arms. "Is it a boy or girl?"
"It's a girl," Iris replied. "And her name is Lily."
"Hullo, Lily," Rupert said as gently as he could. "I'm, I'm your cousin Rupert."
"Wanna play, now!" Petunia whined as she stomped into the sitting room. "Rupie, come play!"
"Petunia's jealous of Lily, isn't she?" Rupert asked, wincing at Petunia's high-pitched squeak of a voice.
"Yes,' Iris replied. "But she must get over it. It won't do for sisters to fight."
"Lily's beautiful," Rupert whispered. "I mean, she's just a baby, but still, she's beautiful."
"Play NOW!" Petunia yelled as she grabbed at Rupert's shirt.
"Ow! Get off!" Rupert shouted.
"Petunia! Stop bothering your cousin Rupert. Sit quietly over there," Iris said. "He'll play with you soon. After he finishes meeting Lily."
"It's all right, Aunt Iris. I'll play with Petunia," Rupert said, resigned to his fate as maligned toy for his mad little cousin. He slid off the couch and walked over to Petunia. "Horses?"
"Horses!" Petunia exclaimed happily, scrambling up on Rupert's back.
Rupert had a sudden thought of chanting open a hell portal and leaving Petunia there for the demons, but then Petunia grabbed at his hair and pulled hard.
"Go, now!" Petunia ordered.
Rupert gave his best impression of a whinny and trotted about the room on all fours with Petunia giggling happily on his back. Suddenly, tiny Lily awoke from her nap and began to cry.
"Quiet! Quiet! My play! Mine!" Petunia leapt off Rupert's back and rushed over to where her mother was comforting Lily. "Mummy, stop her noise! Stop her noise!"
"All your laughing must have woken her up," Iris said. "It's all right, sweetie. Hush, hush, Mummy's here," she chanted, rocking the baby in her arms. "Nothing to be frightened about."
Rupert got up from his horse-posture and went over to Iris. "Will she be all right?"
"She'll be fine, Rupert," Iris grinned. "Babies cry. It's the only way they can tell us what's on their minds."
"Stop! Stop the noise!" Petunia yelled at the top of her lungs, which made Lily wail even louder.
"Petunia, YOU should stop. YOU'RE the one who's frightening Lily," Rupert said. "Babies don't like to be frightened."
"Not fair!" Petunia grumbled. "Not fair, not fair, not fair!" She kept tugging on her pigtails, as if to pull them straight off.
Suddenly, Rupert witnessed something extraordinary. One moment, Petunia was throwing one of her usual tantrums. The next moment, Petunia's pigtails were stuffed in her mouth. Rupert didn't see her place them in her mouth. They just sort of "floated" there on their own. Well, it did manage to keep her quiet for a time.
"Supper's ready!" Margeret announced from the kitchen.
"Yes, Mum!" Rupert answered as the rest of the family filed out of the sitting room. He watched Petunia remove the pigtails from her mouth. She seemed too stunned to scream and walked in a daze behind her mother. Rupert wondered about what would cause Petunia's hair to behave like that, and he made a decision to ask his father about it later tonight, after the Evans's went home.