Title: Within (1/2)
Fandom: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Warnings: Torture, violence, strong sexual themes
Tags: AU Adventure
Spoilers: General knowledge
Summary: "Sometimes, the person you trust the least proves to be your destined ally."
Disclaimer: All known characters and premises belong to their respective owners. So there.
Notes: Written for the "summer_of_giles" event, .
Air crystallized before her, wisps of wind exhaling icicles from parted lips. From lips that held a familiarity that burned her memory. Her eyes strained to see, to remember but soft words spoken deterred her concentration.
Shook her mind and paralyzed her body.
Stole her heart.
A naked back rested in her peripheral vision. When she turned, the darkness engulfed the body with no face, stealing sight until she shied her gaze away. She glanced at the strong muscles from the corner of her eye, seeing a hand push past, elasticizing the skin. A face followed, almost wanting to escape through the epidermal. Wanting to reach out from within.
A large talon, a jagged claw tore through, from the inside out, and blood trickled down in a meticulous path, burning the skin, layers upon layers.
Blood drops sizzled on the floor as the man turned, only his mouth in full view. "Blood is freedom."
She stepped into the library, knowing in her gut that he would be there. He always came early in case there was patrolling discussions from the previous night, or research to be done.
There was always research to be done, and part of her felt a little guilty for burdening him with her dreams.
Most often than not they were prophetic, and she wanted to discuss them with him as soon as possible, if anything to put her mind at ease that he wasn't in any kind of danger. That perhaps her sharing her knowledge would protect him somehow, especially concerning the last flash she had, in the shower. When she had come to, the water had been running cold and the memories of the second semi-dream still rested heavily on her conscience. The image of her Watcher bound and beaten, frightened her. But it was the droplets of blood, that sizzled upon the floor, that shook her to the core.
She peaked through the window in his office, watching his profile as he began to dress. She held her breath as she watched him move. Her eyes took in the flex of each muscle in his abdomen and arms as he shook out his dress shirt and eyed it, searching for any wrinkles. Though his body wasn't sculpted like Angel's, it was well-defined. Having trained with her everyday definitely kept him in good health, she mused, as she spied the gentle dusting of tawny hair on his chest.
Rolling her eyes affectionately, she moved to chastise him for not going home when he turned abruptly, facing away from her.
Her eyes caught a quick glimpse of a tattoo on his back before he shrugged his crisp white shirt on, the material sliding over the circular image inked on his left shoulder blade, hiding it from her view.
She knitted her brows together as she approached his office, tossing her books and bag on the counter along the way. She leaned against the door frame, arms folded across her chest as she continued to stare as he buttoned up his chocolate-brown vest. She refused to let herself be persuaded by how the deep brown brought out the green in his eyes. Instead, she thrust her chin forward, nodding towards him.
"When did you get the new tatt?"
Giles pivoted, hands tying his tie with expert ease. "Oh, hullo Buffy. I uh, I didn't hear you come in." He folded his suit jacket across his arm, as he nodded towards the counter. "Putting on a fresh pot," he smiled almost shyly, directing her towards the steeping tea.
She nodded, sitting atop the counter, legs swinging idly. "So, the tatt! Spill!"
"You're here early this morning," he spoke, not looking at her as he prepared the tea. "Is-is everything well?"
"Oh! That reminds me of this dream I have to tell you about - and before I forget, yes you've changed the subject and no I haven't been distracted. After we get the oogie-boogie lo-down on my dream, we're talking about that tattoo, mister!"
He threw her a long-suffering look before motioning her to continue, as he poured two cups of tea. "Enlighten me as to what pea is under your mattress, Princess."
"It was really weird, Giles," she began, jumping down from the counter and walking over to the table, where he now sat. She took a seat beside him, wrapping her hands around the mug and stealing its comfort. "I was in this room and it was really cold. I don't know, just a plain ol' darkened room. And there was this guy. Naked, I think. And he was like, tied up or something. And had been tortured. And then, I saw this…I don't know, this hand coming out of his skin. From his back, you know? Like, all stretchy and wanting to tear through. And then it did! This claw thing tore through and blood fell and it was boiling."
She glanced up, eyes crinkled with worry. "Give it to me straight, doc. How messed up am I?"
He opened his mouth to speak, lips shaping words but no sound was released. He finally sighed, eyes resting on the table as he reviewed her words. "Um, a-anything else out of the ordinary? Is this the first dream, then?"
"First dream? Of this sorts? Yeah." She took a tentative sip of the tea, sucking on her tongue as the hot liquid burned as expected. "Oh! I uh…I lost time."
"Pardon? You…misplaced your watch?" He chuckled softly at his own joke, before sobering up upon seeing her un-amused expression.
"No, you silly Watcher. I…got this flash. I was awake, but I could see pictures. Almost like a continuation of the dream. Except…except you were in it." She dared to glance up, worry once again etched on her face.
He looked at her with surprise. "H-how do you know it was a continuation, Buffy? I mean, you yourself said you were awake, so perhaps it was a memory-triggered recollection of the manifestation."
"No Giles. It was definitely…an awake dream. And it was a continuation because…well your blood had that same sizzling thing going on. Totally wigged me out! I came to in the shower." She took a sip of the tea, staring at the liquid in contemplation.
Giles studied her expression, seeing that she was definitely affected by it. He grew concerned, reaching over and placing a hand on her shoulder, trying to promise comfort. "I'll do some research while you're in class. Perhaps after, instead of training, we can focus on finding out any symbolic meaning of the blood."
"And the claw ripping through the skin. Oh," she exclaimed loudly, "and and and a face. I saw this face like, trying to stretch out from the skin too. As if there was this person trapped inside the other person." She shook her head, eyes glazed as she stared unseeing. "No…not a person. It didn't look like a, a person." She finally looked up to see her Watcher staring straight ahead, almost as if he was distracted. But she knew him, knew that this was his understanding face. This was where he put all of his knowledge together and churned an answer.
"So you know it," she broke his concentration.
She noted that there was a certain fear in his eyes. A very faded twinkle of apprehension sat in his now worried greens. "You know the answer. You know what my dreams mean. And it's bad."
He let out a breathy chuckle, finishing his tea in a large gulp. "Truly, I wish the answer could come upon a simple reflection, but I assure you my talents at deciphering cryptic dreams aren't as potent as they seem."
"But you had that far away look on your face. That I'm so good because I solve things faster than you look. And then it turned into a worried and scared look."
He swallowed hard, wondering for a brief moment if his expressions were that legible. "Uh…I," he frowned into his empty cup. "I don't like seeing you upset, Buffy." He wondered if she would buy his excuse as easily as he hoped she would. Granted, it wasn't a lie. His heart ached whenever she was hurt. His statement was the truth, he mused to himself. Just not the truth for this situation.
"You know what would make me un-upset, Giles?"
"You showing me your tattoo! I think that's so cool! Can I get one?"
"I hate to be the bearer of um, un-hip news, Buffy, but there is no tattoo to speak. I only have the one, located on my upper arm." He touched the area of which he spoke, and for a brief moment, memories he fought hard to bury, surfaced. "Right then, shall we perhaps start with some research?"
He cringed not looking at her, knowing full-well that she was pouting. Knowing full-well that he had much difficulty resisting. "Buffy, I can assure you that I have no other tattoo."
"But I saw it!"
"Surely you are mistaken. Perhaps it was a shadow or a piece of lint," he continued, trying to reason with her. He wondered why she was so adamant about it, and why she hadn't been convinced. He frowned, looking almost through her as he tried to come up with reasons for his failure; normally, they were always convinced.
"Giles, I don't think a piece of lint can be the size of a dinner plate. C'mon, I'm the Slayer! Not the mistakes balls of lint for big tattoos on her Watcher's back Slayer. So give! Show me."
"Buffy, there really isn't anything to -"
They both turned, glancing towards the entrance where Willow walked through.
"Willow," Giles breathed her name as he stood up, though his eyes never left Buffy. He began to loosen his tie and stripped of his vest. Placing it on the table in front of him, he began to unbutton his shirt, still keeping his gaze on his Slayer. With his back to Willow, he brought his shirt down, uncovering his left shoulder.
"Willow, do tell Buffy that there is absolutely no tattoo located on my left shoulder."
Buffy frowned, looking at her Watcher who now had his eyes closed. She moved her eyes to her best-friend, taking in her surprised look - almost as if she had seen something. However, her eyes descended into a half-lidded state before she spoke.
"Buffy, there is absolutely no tattoo located on Giles's left shoulder."
Giles opened his eyes, staring defiantly into Buffy's. "See. Proof enough?"
"I'll believe it when I see it, Giles."
He swallowed hard, and for a split second, he wondered if she'd rush him. He opened his mouth to speak, but Xander's entrance interrupted any further discussion. He closed his eyes, voice soft once more. "Xander, just in time. Tell Doubting Thomas over there, that there is no tattoo on my left shoulder."
"Never mind. Just tell Buffy," he spoke through grit teeth, trying to rally his patience.
Buffy stood up at she took in Xander's surprised look - a flash of the emotion - before he too followed Willow's steps.
"Sorry Buffster. There is no tattoo on Giles's left shoulder."
"Okay guys, what is this, a trick? I know what I saw, Giles! Did you guys rehearse this? Screw with Buffy day!" She stood up, arms crossed and temper slightly elevated. "Let's all join in the Slayer Screw'age
parade - "
All three looked at Xander, who now sported a sheepish look. "Heh, keep forgetting to use my inside head voice."
Giles stood up, straightening his shirt and buttoning it. He put on his vest tie again, straightening it. "So, now can we move on? We can start with some light research before your classes."
"What apocalyptic hoe-down are we researching now?" Xander asked, glancing up at the mezzanine.
"Buffy's been having some rather disturbing dreams," Giles offered, hoping his Slayer would fill her friends in on the contents. Somehow, he didn't feel comfortable offering those specific details. He leaned against one of the bookshelves with a sigh, books on dream interpretation and symbols held tightly against his chest. He listened idly as she explained her dreams, and listened as her friends offered her comfort.
He let out a breath, eyes searching the empty space in front of him, almost seeking an answer to be pulled from thin air. He wondered what could have triggered it. Why and why now. He pushed himself off the bookshelf and made his way to the mezzanine, stopping slightly out of view as he heard Buffy's voice question her friends.
"So you guys really didn't see anything?"
"Anything what?" Xander asked in return, taking out a juice box from his bag.
"Giles's other tattoo."
"Giles has another tattoo?" Willow asked, looking perplexed. "Are you feeling okay, Buffy? Maybe that dream wigged you out more than you thought."
He took that moment to make his presence known, throwing a warning glance at his Slayer to cease the tattoo subject and focus on her dreams.
The gang worked for an hour straight, tossing ideas and writing down theories. Giles kept catching Buffy staring at him, and he would hold her gaze until she realized her actions and divert her attention. He smiled softly to himself at the pale blush that coloured her cheeks.
He glanced at the clock on the wall, finishing off his third cup of tea. "I do believe you lot have a class to go to. If you aren't too busy, I'd like to continue researching some more tonight. I have an appointment at four o'clock, but I'll be back by six. You can make yourselves at home here," he told them, pointing towards his office. "There are a few snacks and drinks -"
"- which Willow and/or Buffy shall ration," he look pointedly at Xander, who grinned cheekily at him. "Continue researching and I shall join you."
"Cool!" Xander and Willow chorused as they grabbed their bags and headed for the door.
"So I'm thinking we should get some training in, Giles."
His head shot up and he regarded her with caution. "…okay, what did you do?"
"What? A Slayer can't want to train? It's part of my calling and all that blah blah."
"A Slayer can want to train," he began, head cocked to the side with a curious grin. "However this Slayer has never shown any desire to, before." He narrowed his eyes, trying to read her obviously forced innocence. "Just what are you planning?"
"Jeez, Giles! Seriously. Don't have a hernia! I just don't feel up to par at the moment."
"Okay, we'll leave Willow and Xander to research and you and I shall do a bit of sparing."
"Perfect!" She clapped her hands together, throwing him a coquettish smile before heading to the door.
He watched her go, watched the gentle sway of her hips, a smile still on his face. It was only after she had left that his smile turned into a frown and worry settled deep in the pit of his belly. His appointment was one with himself, a mere two hours to meditate and find the answers he was seeking, from the one place he knew would never lie. From the one being he could always trust.
He piled up the books and notes left by the others, and put them in his office. As he reached for his cup of tea, a group of students and their teacher came in, chattering softly and taking over the library. He smiled as politely as he could, trying hard not to cringe each time a book was not replaced in its home.
Letting out a controlled breath, he sent a silent prayer to the Gods, hoping that he'd be able to survive the day.
Buffy peeked around the corner, watching as Giles locked up the library, briefcase in hand.
"Why are we spying on Giles?"
"Shh!" She turned, throwing her best-friend a glare.
"We're spying on Giles? I was promised cookies."
Buffy glanced at the Watcher again, brows furrowed as she took in his odd behaviour. In fact, he'd been acting out of sorts all day. She watched as he stopped down the hall, idle and unmoving. His back was to her, and it was only thanks to her Slayer hearing that she caught the tail end of his softly whispered "I know."
He continued towards the main exit and she had to put a hand to her mouth to cover her gasp. She had seen it. Her eyes hadn't played tricks on her, but she had seen the distinct shape of a hand almost immerge from his back. Just like in her dreams.
"Buffy, what's wrong?" Willow asked, a hand on her shoulder.
"Did you guys see that? Giles…his back. That hand thing!"
"When he was just near the exit…I saw it, Will!" Buffy stood up and walked towards the library, determination in her step. "We're getting to the bottom of this."
"W-what are we going to do? Ambush him! Make him take us to his leader?" Willow asked, following Buffy.
"We're going to snoop."
"Ooh!" Xander began, rubbing his hands together. "Snoop I can do!"
She locked the door behind her, heading straight for his office. Checking the filing cabinet there, she gave it a gentle tug, breaking the lock. She pulled out all of his old Watcher journals and handed them to Willow. "You get started on this and I'm going to search in the occult section for demonic symbols."
"Something's not right and I kept getting an extreme case of the Slayer wiggin's today." She looked to the door almost wistfully. "I didn't want to say anything cos I'm not sure myself, but it was every time I was near Giles." She looked back at her red-headed companion, worry in her eyes.
Willow nodded and took the journals, sitting down beside Xander who was already munching on his sixth cookie and a glass of Cream Soda. The two started leafing through them.
A few minutes later, Buffy came down with several books on demons and occult symbols. "It isn't like Giles to be frivolous and get a random tattoo," she began, as she opened up the book on occult symbols. "It has to mean something," she trailed off, flipping the pages rapidly as her eyes scanned the book.
"Yeah, I mean, look at his Eyghon tattoo. That definitely meant something. Giles would probably get something like this one," Xander said, holding up a journal from the 1490s. "This seems really familiar…" he trailed off, looking at it upside down.
"Yeah, it feels like I've seen that too. I just don't remember where. I mean, it's not from just now, because I wouldn't have had that sense of déjà-vue, but from not so long ago, you know."
Buffy's eyes grew wide. "It was from this morning, Will."
"That. That's his tattoo."
Willow grabbed the occult symbol book from Buffy and leafed through until she got to the index. She traced her finger across the word and searched for it. "It can't be." She shook her head, looking up at Buffy before holding up the book. "The Shiv'gar mark is branded on those who have been possessed."
"What's going on?"
All three looked up, breaths held, as Giles stood there, arms folded across his chest. In perfect synchronicity, the three of them stood up and remained planted, uneasily. "Oh Holy of Holies, repel the evil!" On a whim, Xander took his glass and sprayed the contents on Giles.
He stood there, eyes closed as the sticky, sickly-sweet liquid clung to his face, droplets cascading down. "I am not a vampire, Xander," he began, surprisingly calm. "Several manifestations attest to that, the first being the most important." He pointed towards the window where all three looked at the sun streaming in. "You've seen me in daylight."
"Second," he interrupted the young man who had been about to speak, "for Holy Water to be affective in the fight against vampires, one must assure that it is in fact blessed, and it is in fact," he paused, opening his eyes and glaring at him, "water."
Xander took a step forward, hands thrust in his pockets. "Towel?"
"Yes please." He nodded when Xander handed him the towel, drying his face before looking back at the three of them. "So," Giles continued, taking off his suit jacket and vest. "Any progress?"
"Um, no." Buffy smiled, standing in front of the table and casually trying to close the Watcher journals. "We searched. We uh…we came up with nada. Right Will?"
"Uh yeah. None. No na, no da." The young red-head paused. "Actually, that's a double negative. That would mean there was na and da."
"Okay, Willy no talky now." Buffy turned back to face her Watcher, who was now drying his face with the towel that Xander brought. "So, Giles. Training?" She asked, cringing at how eagerly fake she sounded. "Got a lot of energy to burn and Willow and Xander have to be home cos Willow's mom his making their famous um, pork chops!"
Giles stood, both eyebrows raised as he stared at his Slayer, obviously caught in a lie. "Willow's parents are practicing Jews. I highly doubt that pork chops are on the menu for tonight, Buffy. Perhaps a substitute should be mentioned in haste, so as not to raise my suspicions," he spoke calmly, an indescribable smile on his face.
"Training. Now." She spoke, hands planted on her hips. "You two, go."
The two nodded, and grabbed their bags, bidding the Watcher a farewell, but at a distance.
He turned and looked to his Slayer, advancing on her. He looked over her shoulder at the books strewn about. "You broke into my cabinet?" He asked, not looking at her. His eyes fell upon the journal closest to her, and he picked it up, leafing through. He kept his face neutral but his heart speed increased. He looked at the mark of Shiv'gar and felt his shoulder burn.
"We've been over this, Buffy. There is nothing to show."
"Then how come I recognized this?! It sure wasn't from my pastime of looking up demonic markings!"
"You probably think you saw that, but I can assure you -"
"- then show me your back," she interrupted, voice stern and stubborn.
"I refuse to cater to your every whim, Buffy. You have to learn to trust me."
"You're lying to me! How can I trust you?!"
"I am not lying to you!" He yelled back, anger and anxiety mixing a dangerous brew. "Why can't you just accept my answer?!"
She grabbed him by the neck and slammed him hard against the table. "If you won't show me, I'll see for myself." She mumbled with a stubborn drive.
He struggled against her for a moment, but realized that it was futile.
She frowned as his body went limp for a second. "Giles?" She leaned forward, straining to see his face which was pressed against the journals.
In a second, she was on her back and he was now standing on top of her. "Buffy, leave well enough alone. I'm begging you."
She looked up into his eyes, hearing the desperation in his voice and seeing it echo in his deep greens. She almost faltered, but instead swiped at his feet, bringing him down to the floor beside her. She pounced on his, hands reaching for his shirt, buttons flying everywhere.
He grunted at her weight on him, his body responding but his mind too preoccupied to allow the pleasant feel of her against him. His fantasies knew of such pressure, of such pleasure. He grabbed her arms and held them away, as she continued to bat against him.
"You jerk! Why don't you trust me!" She yelled, as she kneed him in the groin.
He dropped her arms and fisted his hands as he curled up, biting down hard on his lip to avoid the expletives that were dancing idle on the tip of his tongue.
In his currently vulnerable state, she took the opportunity to roll him on his back. Straddling his waist, she grabbed each side of his shirt and began to rip it from the bottom up, her drive to wanting to be proved wrong stronger than her logic.
It happened in a second and it felt like a sonic pulse that had slammed into her body. The next thing she knew, she was sprawled on the floor, more than halfway across the room. Giles still lay on the ground as well, but he was now on his back, propped up on his elbows and staring at her aghast.
They both scrambled up, one with a look of regret while the other stared back with fear fuelled adrenaline.
"- no. Don't touch me." She interrupted him, taking a fighting stance.
His stomach clenched and he looked away, mortified by his behaviour. "Sometimes, the person you trust the least proves to be your destined ally." He whispered, still keeping his gaze to the floor.
"So maybe one day, we'll be allies," she grit, cautiously grabbing her bag and skirting around him, her body always ready to retaliate. "But for now…I don't even know who you are." She backed up towards the door, one hand on the cool wood while the other remained as a fist. "You stay away from my friends. You come near them…you come near me…" She continued, her voice trembling as tears lined her eyes. "I'll kill you."
Giles watched her go, and stood there, body aching with sharp pains. He walked slowly towards the table and began to clean up, gathering all of his old Watcher journals. Moving towards his office, he placed them chronologically, frowning when the very first one was missing: the 1492 to 1501 edition. He got up and jogged toward the table, searching through note papers and books. He bent down, albeit with great effort, and searched under the table.
Buffy closed the door to her room, looking sadly at her two friends who sported the same expression.
"So do you think it was magic?"
"I don't know Will. It was almost like this force field. It sent me flying!"
"Did it hurt?"
"It was more like being really roughly pushed away. My butt still hurts from hitting the floor though." Buffy responded, taking out a journal from her bag. "Managed to steal this. I think this holds a lot of our answers."
"Stealing from Giles, Buffy? I don't know…it doesn't feel right." Willow began, looking at the journal with a mixture of interest, excitement and guilt.
"He's not our Giles anymore, Will."
"Buffy's right, Willow. That wasn't Giles. Giles would never hurt Buffy. Would never put us in danger. You said it yourself, he's possessed with the Shivy thing."
Willow nodded and Buffy smiled, running a hand through her hair. "We'll figure it out. We'll find a way to save Giles."
It had been two days since he had seen them and he knew for certain that Buffy had told Willow and Xander of the events that had transpired. He leaned his head back against the couch, cursing himself for not trusting them. For not trusting her. His heart ached at the thought that she hated him. No, he shook his head. Not hate…he could live with hate. What pained him was the fear in her eyes.
He glanced down at the pot of tea, four cups and the array of cookies that sat on the coffee table. Every day, at six o'clock, he would put them out. More of a habit, but deep down, it was more of a hope. Hope that they would try to make contact.
That they wouldn't be afraid anymore. That they would trust him enough to come to him.
That she would trust him again.
That she would come to him.
He glanced at the door, wondering if it was his mind that was playing tricks and the knocking was just his subconscious's way of screwing with him. He stood up and took a few tentative steps, when suddenly the door burst open. He stared wide-eyed before everything went black.
"I don't get it. There was another Watcher named Rupert Giles?" Xander asked, finishing off his glass of milk in a long gulp.
"That's what it says. He writes that he was called when he was ten years old. And that after a period of rebelling, he finally gave in to his destiny."
Buffy frowned. "That sounds like our Giles." She paused, her frown slipping to a sad smile. "Well, our old Giles."
"And this is the guy from 1490?"
Willow nodded, pointing to the book. "It's Giles."
"No! It can't be! He wouldn't lie to us for four years!"
"Buffy," Willow held up the book which now held the insignia she had seen tattooed on Giles' back. "It speaks of a demon called Ghar'mon. He can only survive through possession, jumping from one body to another. If he is without a body for more than a minute, he ignites."
"Poof?" Xander asked.
"Poof. On fire."
"Buffy, the history that this Giles wrote about…it matches. It matches with everything our Giles has told us."
Buffy sat down, dropping her head in her hands. "So either our Giles is a five-hundred year old demon or this guy is an imposter, posing as someone who we've grown to care about." She stared straight ahead, unable to curb the emotions in her heart. "Why would someone do something like that?" She asked, tears in her voice. "Why didn't he tell us? What does he want?"
Willow held her friend tightly. "We need to talk to him, Buffy."
"Willow's right, Buff. If he's a demon…if he's dangerous…we're going to have to…"
She nodded. "I know." She let out a shaky breath, her heart breaking.