Rating: PG13 for violence, no smut or language that I recall
Characters: Giles, Spike, Buffy
Setting: Season 5 Halloween
Disclaimer: I don't own any of this and possibly even the original characters aren't all that original
Thanks: to littleotter73 for beta and encouragement
For this creature is a perversion of man and demon; baring no soul and the blackest of hearts. Such a thing may truly smile, and smile and be a villain.
Vampyre! The Compleat Compendium of True Accounts 1694-1737. Anon.
Halloween is the one time of the year that supernatural threats give it a well-deserved rest…but if anything calamitous should happen, history suggests it will happen to one of us.
Sunnydale Watcher Diaries: Volume VII. Rupert Giles
The evening air was warm and sticky and Quentin Travers wasn't used to such conditions in late October. As he sat on the bed of his squalid motel room listening to the phone, he mopped his brow in a gesture of borne of both heat and impatience. Travers was not a man used to having to wait his turn in any conversation, and he finally tired of the other party and launched into a sustained attack of polite interjection.
"...But all I am asking is that you retrieve this particular artefact that has fortuitously found its way to Sunnydale, and hand it over to the Council before it falls into the wrong hands."
He dabbed his handkerchief at his left temple again as his most reasonable of requests continued to be rebuffed. He tried a different tack.
"Well perhaps as Mr Giles was once on our payroll, I might be permitted to speak to him about this matter?"
No, he could not speak to Mr Giles, in fact he could... He rolled his eyes at the colourful girl.
"I appreciate you follow your own agenda these days Miss Summers, but I thought in light of our recent rapprochement, we could..."
There was a further angry outburst and the phone went dead on him. Travers sighed at the folly of youth in general and undisciplined slayers in particular, rose and stretched his legs out of his room and outside to the darkening skies. He made his way to the corner of the poorly lit parking lot where in the gloom a dark grey van was rocking irrationally. He ignored the slight commotion and addressed the driver's window.
"As I feared, our erstwhile employee and his Slayer do not wish to help us." The rocking of the van increased and there was a low growl. Travers eyed the back of the vehicle as if making a decision he had in truth decided days before.
"Persuade them otherwise," he instructed simply.
His first Halloween at the Magic Box had been something of an eye opener for Rupert Giles. He never truly understood why the previous owner carried such a large amount of 'strictly for the tourists' tat until the 31st October when the main rush had swept into shop demanding, nay fighting over the tackiest items cold hard cash could buy. It was like a hurricane had struck and he was truly grateful to Buffy and her friends for helping with the demand. He was less grateful as he looked at the trashed ruins of his stock room and the cavalier way they had upheaved grates and packaging to meet the demand of commerce.
He'd expected a quiet day, but of course this being Sunnydale, the traditional rules of demon activities never seemed to apply so why should the laws of retail? He was seriously tired and his left leg hurt like the devil because, as if the commercial frenzy hadn't been enough, he'd also rashly agreed to a thirty minute training session with Buffy after the store had closed and now even if he wasn't actually black and blue, she'd certainly knocked him several shades of purple and puce. Parts of him had no feeling, and these were parts he rather wanted to use again -like his left leg - he was rather fond of that. He was grateful he'd changed into his sweats for the session but couldn't face tidying anymore. Giles yawned and decided to leave the trash for the night. Buffy had hung on for a lift home and he was looking forward to pouring a hot bath and a large whisky and lowering himself into both. The clean-up operation could wait till morning.
He shuffled up the stockroom stairs. Buffy looked up from her college books on the big table. "How's the leg now?"
He limped a little more theatrically and replied, "Still dead thank you."
"I am sorry. You're not usually that slow."
He grimaced playfully. "Chalk it up to my venerable age then."
"Oh come on. It's not that bad."
Giles smiled at her indignant defensiveness. "I may never have circulation there again."
Buffy stuck her tongue out at him and he suppressed a giggle.
"Who was that on the phone?" Giles remembered hearing the ringing and some angry sounding words from Buffy. "Not a customer I hope?"
"Oh no." Buffy stiffened slightly. "Your old buddy Quentin Travers issuing orders from merry old England and expecting us to drop everything and lick his boots."
Giles doubted very much those were Travers exact words though the interpretation was probably correct. "What exactly did he say?"
"Some ancient artefact, Lazarus' something or other, blah blah blah." Buffy adopted a pompous British Accent. "The Slayer must prevent it from being lost or destroyed. Blah blah blah." She shot him a look. "Lazarus now! As if I don't have enough dead guys in my life. If Quentin Travers thinks he's got us at his beck and call he can… he can…. Giles! I know that far away expression. You want to go look things up don't you?"
She caught him with his mind wandering and there was no point in denying it. "It sounds familiar, I was thinking. I might have something here or at home," he replied airily.
"We're not looking for it and I told him so."
"Very well." Giles shelved the idea for later and sat down at the table with her. His leg was still hurting again and he rolled up the leg of the sweat pants to inspect for swelling.
Buffy bit her lip. "Maybe we shouldn't train as hard. I don't want to hurt you."
"I don't want to you hurt me either," he joked.
"But you get hurt anyway. We have an alarmingly twisted relationship when you come to think of it."
"I don't think so, not really. I mean I throw knives at you. Granted if you start throwing them back we'd have a problem but..." as he spoke he picked a book from the shelf behind him and sought refuge in the pages. "After all the Watcher's role is to help and train the Slayer for combat."
"Yeah but maybe you should just help and train with the books and stuff."
Giles studied his book more intently. Buffy moved a little closer, indicating she was not going to drop the topic so easily. She spoke very softly.
"You were too slow. That's why I caught you with that karate kick."
"You are the Slayer," he grouched back. "Everyone human would have been too slow to stop that kick."
"All right," she conceded. "Not slow then. But you didn't do enough to block me. It was like, something inside you knew it was the winning move and you just accepted it like it was checkmate or something. I'm the Slayer, I expect to win too, but when you see the end coming, sometimes you give up too easily."
"We are supposed to be training you not me," he answered, turning a page to avoid eye contact.
"I need you to challenge me though."
"Did I mention that I throw knives at you? I'd say that was pretty challenging. It's not something you can exactly hold back on."
"Fine. I'm not saying you don't try… I'm sorry I said anything." She raised her hands to back off.
"But you think I'm inadequate as a training partner?" Giles blurted out the question and immediately regretted putting it into words.
"No. No." Buffy rose from the table to shorten the distance between them. "Please don't be upset about this." She touched his shoulder, rubbing her thumb on his grey sweat top. "You're not inadequate. You don't hold back, I know that. But I also know you don't really mean it. And that's always going to give me an advantage. In your heart you're a big old softie, Rupert Giles."
He sniffed and starting to look around the floor and under the books on the table. Buffy was puzzled. "Whatcha doing?"
"Looking for my self-esteem. I know I had it here somewhere."
She rose and pulled a face. "Fine. Do the denial thing. I'm going to take a quick sweep of the cemeteries. I know it's Halloween but hello Sunnydale..."
"Do you want some company?"
"Not tonight. You should take care of that leg of yours. Tell you what: You stick to the books and I'll slay the bad guys, OK? I'll stop by in a couple of hours. Drive me home afterwards?"
He nodded and banished dreams of his early night at home.
"I'll be here when you get back," he promised.
Buffy smiled at him. "I know you will and I love you for it. That and the fact you now own I car I'm not ashamed to be seen in." Her eyes challenged him with the insult and he took it affectionately.
Giles' smile faded as soon as the front door merrily peeled Buffy's exit. He threw down the book he'd been pretending to study and limped with some anger back down to the stock room to clear out the mess that Buffy and her hordes had left. He savagely started to crumple boxes and squash bubble wrap into a big heap. He'd been childishly happy when they had resumed her training and purchasing the lease of the shop had given him new focus and a base to work from with Buffy. It hurt in his throat to think he might not be able to keep up with her. He'd thrown himself into the purpose of this new phase of his life with Buffy and maybe he'd been stupid to think he could match her. She trained with Angel and Riley of course he thought bitterly. Stick to the books old man, had been her message. When had he stopped being a credible threat to anyone?
Giles scooped up the recyclables, packaging was the bane of his shop keeping life, and opened the back door with some difficulty. The bins were at the far end of the yard and he immediately juggled and lost a couple of small plastic items. As he bent over to collect them out, he realised a little too late that he wasn't alone in the yard. Instinctively he rapidly turned to try to throw everything at his assailant but as he did so as a heavy object cracked his skull and everything turned dark before he crumpled to the ground.
Giles woke up with a numb feeling on the side of his face where he was in contact with the cold concrete of his yard. Much as he resented Buffy's assessment that he'd lost his touch, he did have to concede that he got knocked unconscious an alarming number of times. His self-deprecation was interrupted however by a woman's scream close by. Giles shook himself to full consciousness and saw an attractive middle aged woman wearing a long camel coat in an obvious life of death struggle with a burly vampire. Giles hauled himself to his feet, broke off a lump of wood from one of the pallets from a dumpster and rammed his makeshift stake through the back ribs of the attacker. His aim was rewarded with a shower of dust and he managed a weak smile at the woman though she just looked back at him in shock. She was probably a tourist who had strayed into somewhere she shouldn't have, he thought. It wasn't surprising she didn't look terribly impressed. He felt groggy at the sudden activity and dropped his head to see that his sweat top was covered in blood and grime. It must have been quite a head wound he'd picked up earlier.
The tourist was shaking and looking at him nervously. She'd had a rough night of course. Giles watched with interest as she dropped cautiously to the ground, feeling for her purse though never once taking her eyes off him.
"Would you like to come in to the shop to freshen up?" He took a step nearer but she screamed like a banshee again. As Giles pulled up in surprise, the woman he had just saved from certain death took off like an ungrateful jackrabbit in the opposite direction. He saw a last flash of the camel from the streetlight on the corner and then she was gone.
"You're welcome," he muttered after her.
He couldn't really blame her. That coat was expensive and she was certainly in the wrong part of town. Giles felt like death and maybe he looked a lot worse too. She probably thought he lived in the dumpsters -"Marvellous first impression, old chap" - and he blundered back into the Magic Box still feeling pretty groggy. Damn, he'd probably have to go to ER and maybe he needed stitches. He felt the back of his head gingerly for wet patches just as the store doorbell jauntily announced Buffy's return with impeccable timing to witness his latest failure at hand to hand combat. Could his night get any worse?
"Giles! What happened to you?" Buffy rushed the gap between them but he turned his back from her fussing and headed for the back room and the sink in the corner to wash up. He wasn't in the mood for any flippant remarks so he gave her the condensed version of events.
"Vampire outside. Clobbered me but I got it before it took out the camel."
"And the concussion count is how many now?" she replied archly as she followed him into the back room.
He ignored her, gritting his teeth in anticipation of the inevitable sarcasm and I told you sos he was about to be subjected to. He put the plug in the sink and ran some cold water.
"I'll be fine," he said a little impatiently, flashing her a quick reassuring smile before returning his attention back to the sink.
"Oh god. Giles, your face."
She spoke so quietly he almost missed her words. Her voice had actually trembled and her tone had been pure concern. It was rather sweet of her to worry. He swivelled to give her a better look at himself and saw her eyes widen.
"Is it bleeding?" he asked. "Damn."
Puzzlingly, Buffy was giving him a look very similar to the one from the tourist lady. He looked down in bewilderment: his sweats were filthy were he'd been laid on the street and there was a lot of dried blood, but nothing out of the ordinary. His hands he noticed were cold and almost blue; probably from the shock.
Buffy looked so worried he smiled to reassure her. "It's OK. I'll live," he promised.
He stopped the water and leaned back against the sink as another wave of nausea swept him. He really was getting too old for this; maybe she'd been right about his uselessness. He lifted his head to the mirror above the sink to see what damage had been done to his face. He expected cuts, bruises and swelling. Instead he got nothing but the back wall behind him. He blinked. His brain had been badly muddled but it seemed like the mirror wasn't working. He felt Buffy shift slightly to his right and watched in fascination as her image filled the mirror even though she was directly behind him. Her eyes were wet and angry and her lip trembled slightly. He watched in paralysed fascination as her hand slipped to her inside pocket and produced a stake.
Giles' brain, legs, and outright instinct for survival all kicked in at about the same second. This was no time to concede she had the better fighting position. He dived left and took off through the shop to the front door. He pulled at display stands desperately as he ran, cascading his stock as obstacles to impede her progress. She was going to be faster than him and he needed all the help he could get. She pulled on his arm as he went through the doorway but he slammed the heavy door back at her, the bell flew from its bracket – he'd always hated that bell anyway – but he must have hit her hard because she wasn't chasing him. Giles ran on down the streets, as far and as fast as he could go, not daring to look over his shoulder. He darted down a random alleyway and hid pathetically behind the dumpsters. Buffy could not have seen his direction from the shop because he heard no following footfalls as he crouched into the darkness and the dirt. His leg should have hurt from training session injury. He should have been out of breath. His heart should have been racing with fear and adrenaline but it wasn't and nothing gave him more pain than the implications of that knowledge and that Buffy slayed his kind.