il_mio_capitano (capitano_fic) wrote,
il_mio_capitano
capitano_fic

The Devil You Know 6/8

Title: The Devil You Know
Author: il_mio_capitano
Chapter: 6/8
Length: 4200
Rating: PG
Setting: Post Chosen but AU. No Angel Season 5 and no comics.


Chapter Six

Buffy stared at Robin in total shock at his suggestion. Her lungs felt heavy and her chest wanted to pound through her rib cage with them.

“Giles is Glory…..that’s absurd,” she muttered, “Monstrous. You have no right to say that. That would mean that…Dawn….” The full implication hit her. “Oh my god Dawn.”

“I’ve had her flight delayed. I don’t want her coming here. Believe me, I will protect her with all my resources.” Robin assured her.

“Glory would take Dawn and , no.no. Giles can’t be Glory. I don’t believe it.”

“I’m sorry but we did some research on Dr Ben Wilkinson. He was a loner with no friends. He had the qualifications but he just drifted through medical jobs in different States. Hospital administrators report he seemed a nice enough kid and was trying to do the right thing but always seemed to stop himself from getting too close to people, and then move on. He wasn’t hundreds of years old. If Glory swaps bodies when her host is near to death, our theory is that Glory’s previous host was injured and she took the opportunity to invade the nice young doctor trying to help out. She’s a god, Buffy. They don’t just die.”

“But Ben knew she was in there.”

“Giles does too I’m sure. Or maybe he only suspects,” he conceded. “Glory might be lying dormant until she gets an opportunity to use the Key again. Maybe Giles doesn’t want to believe it. That could be the reason behind his nightmares: her consciousness trying to break through.”

Buffy sat and stared at the snow on the TV monitor. “I don’t believe it. He wouldn’t let her harm Dawn.”

Robin spoke softly. “He may not have that choice. I think that’s why he’s been running away from the two of you. He’s been putting distance between himself and Dawn. Why else would he leave Sunnydale when you were resurrected? You needed his help and he just left you.”

There was a lot of truth in what he said. “Have you any proof?” she asked, wiping her eyes.

“It’s the only theory that ticks all the boxes. What we need to do now is to find him again and work on a way to contain Glory.”

“You couldn’t even keep a librarian under lock and key,” she said bitterly.

.

Robin put out a cautious general alert. The message was that Giles had to be found and persuaded to come back peaceably. Under no circumstances must they show their hand. Buffy left Robin with his plans and network of contacts. He was in full avert apocalypse mood but he could have it to himself - she didn’t want any part of this one. She didn’t know what was worse, the idea that Glory couldn’t be killed and would go after Dawn again, or that Giles was the one being possessed by an unstoppable hell god. He was sure to be destroyed in any battle and the thought of that hurt her more than she could articulate. She drove around English lanes aimlessly until she realised that she recognised a sign post for a major trunk road she’d taken twice earlier that day. For the wont of anywhere better, Buffy found herself pulling up outside the Coven’s farmhouse again. It was only four o’clock in the afternoon but already dark and cold. After the day’s rain, the ice had returned to claim the night. She considered sleeping in the car but she’d lost track of her travelling bags days before. All she had were the clothes on her back and her wallet and it was just too damn cold to sleep outdoors. She hoped Giles was warm and safe somewhere, and alone.

She pulled the door bell lever and waited for Ms Harkness but instead the door was opened by a tall man with an eye patch and a warm grin. “Xander!” Buffy hadn’t realised how much she missed him until she saw him standing there. She flung herself at him shamelessly and they stood hugging in the doorway of the English farmhouse for sometime. He was her best friend and always ready to help her. She hadn’t told him how much she appreciated that nearly enough. How had they grown up this way?

“Buffy, I hope you don’t mind me saying, but it’s not your best hair day.” It was undeniable. She’d been soaked through and grimy searching the rubble for signs of Giles and had resisted Robin’s offers of further hospitality.

“It’s been a weird couple of days. I’ve lost Giles again,” she mumbled into his chest.

“That’s OK, Buffy,” Xander said and pulled her inside to close the door. Taking her hand he led her through to the kitchen she’d been in earlier. As she rounded the door, Willow Rosenberg rose quickly from the oak table and threw herself into a happy hug. Buffy was somewhat distracted though because also at the table, incredibly, was Giles. Giles looking sleek and clean and shaved with new glasses and new clothes. Giles, sitting sheepishly at the oak table as if nothing had happened, though typically half hiding behind a mug of tea.

Xander beamed, “You may lose Giles, but I always keep a spare.”

Willow offered further explanation; Ms Harkness had apparently not been idle after Buffy left to tackle St Hubert’s and had made immediate contact with Willow.

“Telepathy?” asked Buffy.

“Telephony,” said Willow. “And then I called Xander. Seemed like a Scooby emergency so I popped us over and went to spring Giles. And god Buffy, you really need a shower, do you know?”

“Wait a minute? You did that? You caused that damage? You sprung Giles?”

“Neat huh?”

“Not really. Willow! You just ripped apart Council property and made us all fugitives. Robin has got every Watcher and Slayer on lookout for Giles now.”

“I wouldn’t have had to cause so much damage if it had been an ordinary detention centre. That place was locked down for some serious partying. Far worse than the Initiative. It needed a hole punching in it. And it’s nice to be dangerous in a wholly on the side of doing the right thing sort of way. It’s where the Old Council used to take things they wanted to disappear. Demons, witches, difficult Slayers. St Hubert’s is really not a nice place. I’m ashamed at Robin. No-one locks up one of my guys.” Willow threaded her arm through Giles’ who, whilst he looked embarrassed, wasn’t obviously freaked by her affection.

She was excited and proud of herself. Buffy knew she got like that when she’d done some serious magick but she was the one who was going to have to explain it to Robin though, and she couldn't entirely relax. Whlst it was good that Giles hadn’t been the one to cause all the damage, Robin’s nasty little theory was still uppermost in her mind.

“I like the new glasses,” she said awkwardly.

Willow,” he replied by way of explanation. They were frameless and were far nicer to show his eyes. “And she provided the clothes too.” Buffy felt her own hair self-consciously. She was a bit of a mess after the rain and rubble of St Hubert’s. She felt suddenly exhausted and sat at the kitchen table opposite Giles.

“What time is Dawn arriving?” he asked.

It was such an innocent question but she snapped back to full alertness. “Why?”

Giles looked a little taken aback. “I thought she was coming over for New Year’s Eve that’s all,” he began to stammer.

Xander and Willow joined them at the table and Xander asked, “Buffy, what’s going on? There’s something you’re not telling us.”

“Yeah. You’ve been staring at Giles for ten minutes now. He looks good in my new clothes but he’s really not that cute.”

“Robin has diverted Dawn’s plane,” she answered. “No don’t!” She held a hand to stop Willow from saying, or worse, doing anything. “He has his reasons.”

“Which are?” asked Xander. “I mean, he’s getting a bit high and mighty isn’t he?”

“Robin has a theory I take it?” Giles stopped stirring his tea and waited for her answer.

She took a deep breath; Buffy could only say it quickly or not at all.

“He thinks you’re Glory. He thinks in killing Ben you merely moved her on to a new host. He thinks she’s in there, with you.”

Giles took his new glasses off and rubbed the bridge of his nose. Buffy became aware of that damn grandfather clock again, marking time. Finally Giles said, “That’s rather chilling. Has he got any proof?”

“Not specifically.”

Xander lightly punched Giles on the shoulder. “So, had any new blackouts or woken up in women’s clothing recently?”

“Xander!” Buffy was shocked. His sense of humor was appallingly mistimed.

“No more than usual,” considered Giles phlegmatically.

“Giles!” Buffy was a little shocked that having told them her terrible secret, they were taking it so lightly.

“We’ve been working through a list of possibilities,” explained a giggly Willow. “That one came up already.”

“Oh,” said Buffy, feeling like she’d missed some important plot points. They had been very busy without her. “Any we like?”

“None of them we like,” said Xander firmly, “but many we have.”

Giles seemed to find fascination in the grain of the table. “It started the night you died Buffy,” he said. “The night I killed Ben, so Robin Wood might be right.”

“No no no,I say again no,” cut in Xander. “When Glory was Ben we couldn’t remember anything about it. So she can’t be in Giles or we wouldn’t remember enough to be having this conversation.”

Buffy felt a stir of hope at that but Giles quashed it immediately. “We don’t know for certain.” His fingers traced a knot in the oak. “When we do, then you may all forget. Ben knew, but we don’t know how he knew, or even when he found out.”

Giles rose and made for the front door, Buffy followed him. As she reached for his arm he rounded sharply and addressed her. “How did Robin Wood know where to find us? Did you call him?”

“No. Of course not. I didn’t know Robin was holding you.” She was taken aback he could believe that of her. “He told me I was alone in the car. You have to believe me. Giles. You and me. We were going to solve this together. We still are.”

He chewed his cheek. “He’s very good at picking us off to conspire against each other isn’t he?”

Ms Harkness appeared silently at her elbow with the news that the hot water was ready and that there clean towels and linen on the bed in Willow’s room. Buffy barely heard her. She just stared intently at Giles, willing him to understand she hadn't betrayed him.

His eyes looked down again, avoiding her. “They told me you were… that…I thought I’d hurt you in the crash.” He stole up a look and gave her a quick grin. “And god you really do need a shower.” he added before slipping out the door. Buffy made to pursue but Ms Harkness intercepted her with a gentle touch on the arm.

“He understands really. He just needs a bit of space and a filthy cigarette. He’ll come back.”

.

Buffy took a long bath and changed back into the clothes she’d arrived in. Ms Harkness had washed and cleaned them to look like new. Buffy wondered if she was destined to wear the same outfit forever like a sixties TV show. The gang ate a hearty meal in the kitchen with several bottles of wine consumed. Willow’s happiness was infectious and Buffy had forgotten it was still the Christmas season. Giles took the head of the table and seemed almost like his old self. He rolled his eyes at Xander’s jokes and listened to tales of how the new Slayers were doing. The three of them talked about training and possible Watcher recruits, places they’d been to, and experiences they’d had in dealing with new Slayers. Buffy was surprised at some of the stories. Xander and Willow had sneaked off and become responsible adults, leaving her behind. She felt sleepy with the wine and the talk. It felt like that last Christmas with her mom: when they’d all been at the table laughing, talking happily over each other. Anya and Tara and her mom were gone now. Was Giles going to be next? She shivered a little and shipped her chair closer to the fire.

“That’s new,” Giles said and Buffy turned her head to where he was looking. She’d forgotten that she’d left the Slayer painting earlier that day in her haste. Ms Harkness had propped it up against some riding tackle. Or possibly it was holding up the riding tackle or even the shelf. The Coven’s storage and filing systems seemed remarkably haphazard.

“Oh. Yes. I borrowed it from Robin. He found it in the Council archives. Do you know it?”

Giles brought it back to the table to study but shook his head. “Some European Slayer. The three chaps to the right look menacing enough to be the Council.” Buffy frowned at the new interpretation. She’d had those guys down as vamps.

Xander took it from him “Interesting,” he said as he inspected the underside and slipped the picture out of the gilt frame. “Oils painted on an oak panel I’d say. What? I know my wood.”

Willow giggled.

Xander shook his head playfully. “Help me out Giles. I’m working with children here.”

“Welcome to my world,” muttered Giles.

Buffy exclaimed, “Hey. We are your world.” But he didn’t seem to hear her.

“Painting on oak was a common practice in the middle ages in northern Europe. I’d say it’s German or possibly Dutch in origin,” Giles was swinging into full knowledge guy mood when Xander interrupted.

“Yeah yeah yeah. But do you want to hear the interesting bit or not?”

Giles looked over the top of his glasses at him to invite him to continue.

“She’s been touched up.” There was more Willow giggling, “It’s been painted over in places. This section here is slightly raised to go by feel.”

“It’s been altered?” Buffy couldn’t keep the excitement out of her voice. She knew the painting was important somehow. “How can we tell what it was like before?”

“Easy.” Willow reached for it and worked some magick. The original painting was revealed. It was all the same bar one rather noticeable addition. The girl was now holding one end of a golden chain that snaked to the ground and was tied around the wrists of the man on the floor.

“That’s suddenly got very kinky,” said Xander.

Buffy looked at it but it made no more sense then it had before. “I thought she looked awkward, the way she was standing. Hampered for the fight I mean. Can you see any weapons? Can you get anything else from it?”

“Nope. Just been cut for scene of Bondage. I guess by the Council prudes.”

Giles threw the painting down and poured out the rest of the wine.

.

Giles, Xander and Willow continued their happy evening. Buffy watched them and shrank a little into her thoughts about the painting and the spell on Giles. The other three seemed to be constantly laughing and joking with even Ms Harkness seeming to be part of the gang. Giles was his old self with Xander and Willow. More like the Giles Buffy remembered from the Magic Box, certainly when he’d given up the pretence of being an old fuddy duddy. Buffy liked to swing by his shop after patrol when he was doing inventory. They’d talk about plans to protect Dawn and drink tea and he then would drive her home. Quiet time with Giles felt like a thousand years ago.

“Wait a minute, wait a minute,” Xander was saying, “Duh! Why don’t we ask those knight guys? You know the Knights of Hack and Slash that were all after The Key?” he elaborated. “They seemed clued up.”

Buffy realised that the conversation the others were having had taken an important turn. The Knights of course!

Giles looked excited too. “We could," he said."The Order and Knights of Byzantium have a fortress and training camp called Chalcedon. Yes, of course! It’s in a desert that is cut off from traditional means of approach. It’s heavily defended but they had a Library that is the stuff of legends. We should go there. Excellent idea Xander.”

Xander smiled with pride. “I'm not just a pretty face.”

“No I never thought that,” deadpanned Giles.

Buffy butted in with her information. “Robin mentioned that Library before. He wanted me to ask Ms Harkness how to find the place. He said no-one knows where it is anymore because the last Council Envoy was like thirty years ago and they haven’t got the records-“

“-the last Council Envoy was my father,” interrupted Giles. “I remember him being rather tedious about it, actually he could make most topics rather tedious, but I know how to find it.” He looked to Willow. “It will take a lot more magick than I have to gain any sort of access to the place.”

“Great. Do you want to go now?” she said rising a little unsteadily.

“No. I think we should wait till morning.”

Xander agreed. “Yeah, Will, no offence but if you teleport us on two bottles of wine are we going to end up in Belgium or somewhere?”

Willow stuck her tongue out at his comment.

“Maybe you shouldn’t come with us, Giles.” Buffy sought to take charge of the plan. “I mean, if it’s true that their personal nemesis is still alive and potentially kicking should we really deliver her to their door? That would be bad wouldn’t it?” The three friends looked at her and she felt uncomfortable. “Not that it’s true. But what would they do if they thought you were Glory? They’d kill you on sight I’m betting. If we are wrong about this and they suspect you for a moment…”

But Giles had made up his mind. “We have to know for certain for Dawn’s sake. And I’m not missing out on a trip to the Library of Chalcedon.”

Xander clapped his hands together. “Research at the Library. Now I know I’m back in high school. Tomorrow let us ride …to Camelot.”

Chalcedon

“Trust me. Mine’s funnier. Go with it.”

***

The Slayer was flying. Defying the night sky and just as magnificent, her arms out wide, protecting the Earth as he knew she always would. But it was a dream. She bounced into the badly constructed tower with a sickening crunch of bone and then smashed into the rubble at their feet. Her face looked like she was asleep but the beauty of her body was contorted and broken at unspeakable angles. It was both obvious that she was dead yet completely unthinkable. He hated that she’d chosen that way to close the portal, and hated himself for admiring her actions. He wanted to touch her, to hold her. To fit the bits back together so everything would be OK.

Morning light stole across the debris, catching her blonde hair. The angel that could no longer fly. He knew everyone else was alive, heard them breathing or crying. Dawn had been cut in the ceremony and was badly bleeding. Anya had taken a nasty head knock. Spike was ducking to avoid the sunbeams and crawling towards Buffy. Trust a poet to wear his heart on his sleeve. Giles pushed him roughly away. Dusting himself on her sun drenched corpse would be an ugly spectacle that Dawn didn’t need to see. Spike grouped his anger and lunged at Giles but his chip triggered a scream in pain and despair.

At some point, Xander and Willow decided they should take Tara, Anya and Dawn to the hospital and Giles had nodded. It left him with the dead: Ben and Spike and Buffy. Giles would have swapped the end of the world to undo everything that had happened that night. But he couldn’t so he shook the weeping Spike who had been forced to hide from the sun’s rays.

“We need to take the body somewhere safe,” Giles explained.


***

Later that night, Willow pulled back the covers to her bed.

“Buffy Summers, I am very disappointed with you. Are you going to let sexual stereotypes get in the way of eight years of friendship?”

“Huh?”

“It's late. Come to bed.”

Buffy had been standing by the window of their shared box room for twenty minutes, her face lit by moonlight.

“It’s not that I don’t want to sleep with you, Will, but it’s Giles.”

“You want to sleep with Giles?”

Buffy closed the curtain reluctantly. “No, but he’s sleeping on his own. What if he sneaks off in the night?”

“He won’t”

“What’s to stop him though?”

“Common sense I hope. If he wants answers he has to come with us tomorrow. He can’t get there any quicker by himself.”

Buffy scrambled to her bed and pulled the covers tight.

“Can I ask you something, Will? How well do you like Giles?”

Willow turned on her bed to face her. She rested her chin on an elbow. “I love Giles. Don’t you?”

“Of course. He’s my Watcher. I love Giles.”

“There you go. I love Giles, you love Giles, Xander loves him as well.”

That seemed a little far fetched to Buffy. “Xander? Really? Xander loves Giles?”

“Yes. OK, not in a ‘let’s have a big old orgy’ way, but he’s Giles. You don’t have the monopoly on him. I know he was your Watcher but he was our friend too. He needs our help so we’ll figure this out, Buffy. The four of us. It’s what we do.”

Whilst she welcomed the reinforcements, for a brief moment, Buffy felt a tiny bit jealous that her project to fix Giles had expanded to her friends.

“I didn’t think you guys were that close.”

“In High School you were the Slayer, we were the sidekicks doing the research. We kinda held our own parade. Besides we had that summer you ran away to get to know him a bit better. Xander had to drive him for the first two weeks and you know, Giles was all about trying to track you down and someone had to look out for him, make sure he took his meds. We hung out a lot then. There was talking.”

Buffy had never asked Giles specifically about what happened with Angel, and she knew he wouldn’t tell her anyway. Not then and not now. That was Giles’ way of dealing. If he rolled into a little ball at times, it was only to get tougher to break.

“Will, what exactly happened after I died?”

Willow eyed her with suspicion. “You were gone three months. How much do you want to know?”

“Immediately after. That night. What happened, what did Giles do?”

“He didn’t really do anything. He just stood there. We all did for a time. But then Dawn needed help and Anya was badly hurt. Spike was trying to crawl to your body but you where in the daylight by then and he was sizzling, I don’t think he cared. Actually I think Giles might have pushed Spike back or punched him. I was too busy with Tara, but I remember a fracas of sorts. We found Ben’s body and we thought one of the crazies had killed him. Giles wasn’t quick with the contradiction and it didn’t seem important. We drove to the hospital somehow, Xander drove I think. Giles wasn’t there. I think he and Spike moved the body some place. They took care of things like that whilst Xander and I took care of the living. Dawn was our first concern.”

Buffy nodded. “You took care of everything.”

“We held a service two nights later. We had to bury you in secret, at night. I don’t know how Giles found the spot. He arranged the coffin and got someone to dig the grave I guess. After that well… he seemed upset but we all were. He didn’t seem worse than Dawn say. He started talking about leaving for England fairly soon after that, but he made it sound very rational. That with you gone, there was no reason for him to stay in Sunnydale.” Willow rolled on her back and thought. “It was rather cold of him, we should have realised something was up then. He’d never have left Dawn ordinarily would he? We should have noticed something was wrong. It’s hard to tell when he’s all English. We’ll fix it now,” Willow resolved and turned over to go to sleep.

Buffy lay alone thinking for a long time afterwards. She was cold again. His Country seemed determined to freeze her to the bone. Giles had said the Library and fortress were in a desert so at least she might be warm for once, except she didn’t want to go. Buffy had a nasty sense of foreboding about the next day. She knew that something very bad was going to happen. She’s spent a week determined to get an answer to the Giles question and now she didn’t want it. She lay awake, listening for the sounds of the old farmhouse creaking. If she didn’t sleep, then maybe the next day wouldn’t come.


Chapter Seven

Tags: buffy/giles, xmasfic
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