Of Fighter Pilots and Watchers

Summary: What if Rupert Giles had become a fighter pilot instead of a Watcher? Here's what happens when you try to escape your destiny.

Rating: PG-13ish, possibly M later on...still not quite sure

Spoilers: Never Kill A Boy On A First Date, Halloween

Disclaimer: I do not own any of these characters, though at times I wish...please, Joss, I beg you!

Author: E. Quackenbush aka NephilimEQ aka elisedq-ocd18

Author's Notes: This is a story that I really love writing, and I hope that you enjoy my reposting of it!

Dry. Dusty. Empty.

A shadow across the ground accompanied with the distant cry of a buzzard. But the sound was soon drowned out by a low engine-like hum, gradually getting louder and louder with each passing second.

Dark shadows now covered the ground, and if one shaded one's eyes and looked closely, you could see their destination.

A flash of distant light, almost like water, reflected at the base of the mountains in almost indistinguishable rectangles, one of the few things that broke up the never-ending line between earth and sky. A darker shadow against another shadow, but the slight hiss and crackle of electricity told one that it was very much alive.

Very soon, the sound of radios buzzing and jets landing was all that filled the air in the dusty and mostly vacant desert. It was the first week of December and the pilots were coming in from their' assignments, looking forward to their holiday. A ten week break from the sky.

One of the jets that had been stationary for a few minutes after landing, finally opened up.

A tall, strikingly handsome man stood up inside and pulled his helmet off, eager to breathe fresh air, and although it was dry it had a sweet scent to it, something that only the desert had. He grabbed his gear, and then moving with an ease and familiarity that spoke of long years of experience, he leapt lightly to the ground from the wing, his long legs moving automatically, without a thought on his own part.

He walked a few yards away from his fighter, and stood on the tarmac, his hair pulling up in soft tufts as the wind softly blew over the airfield, carrying its' sweet scent.

With his dark aviator sunglasses, leather jacket, and handsome features, he looked like a man who had seen the world.

And he had.

Behind his sunglasses lay intense hazel eyes that had captured many a woman and fascinated them by the way they shone with a wry amusement. Always hinting on a side of danger, but glimmering with an intelligence that had captured many a woman. A slight quirk of his mouth was all that was needed to draw them in.

His eyes seemed to say that he knew of things that would fascinate and amaze anyone, and many had tried to find his secrets...

But no one ever had.

He had gone straight into the Royal Air Force when he was eighteen, and, of course, his father hadn't approved. He loved his father dearly and a brief pang of sadness gripped him as he remembered the last few years that they had spent apart before his father's death. He had never wanted it to be that way.

He sighed softly, and began walking once more, thinking about what lay in store for him for his holiday.

A friend sidled up next to him as they walked away from their jets, carrying similar equipment and managing to light a fag at the same time.

"Hey, Ripper...where you headed tonight?"

Rupert smiled at his friend. He knew what Ethan had in mind, but he had other plans. They continued to walk along, both of them enjoying the feel of the warm sun on their backs. Nevada was the exact opposite of England, but it was also one of Ethan's favorite places.

The reason why was very simple: money, booze, and women. Nevada had plenty of it and there was one place where you could do it all in one night...Reno: the casino-capital of the United States of America.

He turned his head, raising his voice slightly as the wind had picked up, making it hard to hear.

"Actually, I'm headed to California. Old friend there that I haven't seen in a long while."

Ethan grinned. "Lady friend?"

Rupert laughed. "No, sorry to disappoint. Remember that friend that I mentioned...the one from my Oxford days who continued his Watcher training?"

"You mean Wesley? The one with a stick up his arse? Yeah, I remember you telling me about 'em."

Rupert was the one to grin this time. That was pretty much how Ethan referred to anyone who wasn't Rupert. He was selective about the people that he liked...meaning that he only liked one person besides himself. Rupert laughed silently to himself, wondering how on earth Ethan had ever gotten into the air-force.

However, Rupert couldn't disagree with his old friend on this one. Wesley did have a stick up his arse...but he was also a likeable fellow and one of the few people that Rupert still kept in touch with from those days.

"Well," said Rupert, taking a deep breath. "It seems he's had a Slayer now for the last three and half years or so...and he wants me to meet her."

Ethan choked slightly, as he had been drawing a smoke. "You've got to be bloody kidding me! Wesley Wyndham-Pryce, mister never-had-a-class-I-didn't-like Pryce, actually has had a Slayer for that long? An' 'e hasn't gotten 'er killed? Wow, now that's a surprise. I bet anything that she's the one who's been saving his arse for all these years...bet ya that's a full-time job."

Rupert let out a short bark of what might have been laughter, while glancing at Ethan from the corner of his eye. He took a long look at his friend, who was taking a long drag off the fag, and then slowly exhaling.

Ethan Rayne. The closest friend that he'd ever had and also the most unstable person that he had ever met. Ethan was ruggedly handsome, in a wiry way, which accounted for why women enjoyed his company, but it still annoyed Ethan to no end that they enjoyed Rupert's company more.

Ethan had a tendency to drink too much, smoke too much...and do a little bit too much magic.

Rupert smiled inwardly, remembering their most recent adventure. They had started doing magic when they'd met, and throughout the years they had only grown more adept and more skilled...but of course, Rupert surpassed him.

However, Ethan wasn't threatened by him at all. He respected him, which was something that Rupert found endearing about Ethan. When it came to power, he understood that you had to respect it. They had learned that after the Eyghon incident. It had been that very incident that had woken up both him and Rupert from the world that they had created for themselves.

That had been when they joined.

It had been a sobering effect on both of them, but especially on Rupert. When it had happened he had been given the opportunity to go back to becoming a Watcher, but he hadn't taken it.

He had decided to leave that part of him behind...but not completely. He had been keeping track of the Slayers throughout the passing years, and had kept himself in good physical condition. He even did patrols on occasion in the places that he stayed. Even if he wasn't a Watcher, he still felt a small obligation towards his father's legacy.

He walked into the low slung military building, and he quickly made his way to his locker. God, he was dusty and tired and looking forward to his break.

A few hours later, showered, shaven, and dressed, he grabbed his bags, packed up the few personal belongings that he'd had in his locker, and walked up to the main gate to requisition a vehicle for his use. Flight Lieutenant Alexander Harris was there at the front gate, someone that Rupert knew quite well.

Harris was a likeable young man who had been helping the ground crew out for the summer. With dark hair and intense eyes, he was a relatively attractive young man. However, in his eyes he seemed to be the kind of person who'd had to grow up way too fast in a short amount of time.

After handing Harris the requisition form, it was only a few moments before the keys to his vehicle were in his hands.

As Rupert turned to leave, the young man spoke up.

"Wing Commander Rupert Giles?" He turned and looked up, surprised by how formally the flight lieutenant had addressed him. "I noticed you were going to Sunnydale, California, sir. It's a nice enough place, and you won't have to worry too much about excitement. Uh, I was wondering if it might be possible for me to come along, uh, sir?"

Rupert looked confused for a moment, wondering why the young officer-to-be was asking. "That depends, flight lieutenant. Why do you want to come?" At that, the young man lit up with pride. "Because it's my home, sir."

At that, Rupert nodded, and motioned for him to follow him...but then stopped. "Flight Lieutenant Harris...do you have permission to leave base?" Harris nodded, and then motioned towards a bag that was on his shoulder, though it hadn't been there a moment ago. Rupert surmised that he must have kept it behind the desk.

"My last shift just ended, sir. I...well, I don't have much money and I need a way to get back..."

The young flight lieutenant's voice faded, and Rupert felt empathy for the young man. Why not, he might as well have a companion for the almost six hour drive that he had before him.

Rupert motioned once more with his head. "Sure, you can come along."

A grin lit upon his companion's face, and he soon was in stride with Rupert Giles as they made their way to the vehicle. Rupert looked up as they approached it, and he was pleased to see that it wasn't exactly a vehicle...it was his old motorcycle. He grinned, tossing the keys up in the air and catching them with one hand, running the last few steps to his beloved bike.

Flight lieutenant Harris watched as the older man seemed to regard the bike with an affectionate glide of his hand over the leather of the seat.

"Oh, how I've missed you, beautiful," he said lovingly under his breath. He slid the bag onto the back and then motioned for the younger man to join him. "There's enough room, Harris. Just throw your bag onto the back and then secure with the cords on the sides, alright?"

His dark haired companion nodded, just happy to be going home in general, not really caring what mode of transportation he took.

He did as Rupert said and then slid onto the bike behind him. He looked for someplace to hold onto...anywhere besides the obvious. Rupert chuckled. "It's alright. Ethan's done it countless times...and I promise he won't get jealous."

Harris laughed at the joke, obviously used to relieve the tension, and without too much worry put his hands on the waist in front of him. The motor of the bike roared to life beneath them, and a grin spread across Rupert's face. God, it had been too damn long since he'd ridden, and now he had six hours ahead of him until he hit Sunnydale...

Part 1/?