il_mio_capitano (capitano_fic) wrote,
il_mio_capitano
capitano_fic

The Devil You Know 1/8

Title: The Devil You Know
Author: il_mio_capitano
Chapter: 1/8
Length: 3400
Rating: PG
Setting: Post Chosen but AU. No Angel Season 5 and no comics.

This story follows on from Monster



Prologue

Sunlight screeched in from the high medieval window like lightning bolts. The morning light had sought her out as it always did. Buffy watched as the old dust particles heated and danced in the daggers of daylight. She stood very still on the silent granite flagstones. The final battle, if it could even be called that, was not the stuff of song and legend. It was all over and an enemy vanquished though she didn’t want to call him that. It was as hollow a victory as the old fortress in which she stood.

Buffy turned to leave and walked towards the heavy oak doors, clutching the sword as her only ally. Outside, the heat greeted her as fiercely as the daylight did. She raised her hand to shield her eyes and felt the hot air accusingly on her bare shoulders. The thick walls had been a protection for hundreds of years, keeping their contents sheltered, guarding their secrets until there was no-one left to learn them.

In the distance the mountains shimmered as the air grew warm. She could see Willow outside the open main gates. She was huddled over, birdlike, on a group of rocks, her body heaving with tears. Buffy fought a mild pang of annoyance at her friend. She wanted to cry too but Slayers don’t have that luxury. They kill. They deal. They carry on. Watchers had taught her she should do that.

A dark figure pulled away from a sandstone column to confront her. “Is it over?” he asked.

“He’s gone,” she said stonily. She couldn’t look Xander in the eye. “It’s for the best.”

Chapter One

All in all it was going pretty well. Buffy woke from her warm sun-kissed dream and shifted a little. She kicked the thin blanket over her toes and nestled her shoulders back under Giles’ borrowed leather jacket. She lay in her narrow bunk bed on the night ferry and reflected. The cold she could do without but everything else was nice. She’d been travelling with Giles across Europe for four days now and she had enjoyed his companionship immensely. He’d been out of her life for six months after the fall of Sunnydale and but for a happenchance meeting would have remained hidden from her for who knows how long. Now he was back at her side and she felt more settled with herself. Everything was under control and they were on the move together. Giles had been pretty adamant that he would not fly anywhere so there had been a succession of hire cars and cheap hotel rooms since Christmas Day. Buffy liked travelling; it gave her a sense of purpose and taking Giles to England was her new big project.

Giles had a problem that had been keeping him away from her. He said he was under a spell that forced him apart from people. He was also convinced something was after him, a concern Buffy took very seriously for the first few days. No aeroplanes, no phone calls to Willow or Dawn. Certainly nothing to tell Robin Wood, the head of the New Watcher Council where they were or that she’d even found him. She enjoyed the cloak and dagger-ness of it up to a point, but not being able to call Dawn sucked. She had taken possession of his passport and credit cards so he didn’t have to worry about the responsibility and to stop him slipping away from her again. Given she’d spent the past six months troubleshooting for Robin, having a travelling companion was a nice change. Giles was if nothing else, insufferably guidebooky about places. She laughed at how she’d missed his stuffy little lectures and how she found the sound of his voice reassuring. Eating out was pleasant too even if he did insist on having his back to the wall of any restaurant. He had a fear of confinement but after four days where no-one or no thing had jumped out at them, Buffy began to realise that Giles paranoia was largely of his own making.

“We have to move the body…” Giles was talking in his sleep in the bunk below. As much as she enjoyed the days, the nights had been a bit of a strain. They had been forced to share rooms at night. Which was a little weird though practical on two points. Firstly it meant she could pay on her Council Credit Card without drawing attention – and Giles was adamant they mustn’t draw attention – and secondly she could be on hand for when he had his dreams. He’d warned her they could get bad, but she’d nursemaided Angel on his return from hell and was confident she could deal.

She tried to turn over in her bunk bed. They were almost on the last leg of their journey. The overnight ferry across the North Sea to England held little glamour four days after Christmas. There had been the usual drunks in the bar making a noise, defying the elements and the ship’s crew, but mostly it was tired private people crossing the sea as transport not cruising in luxury. The ferry company called the rooms cabins in order to confer nautical glamour in reality they were boxes with a common bathroom block at the end of each corridor. The design of the ship meant the cabins barely fitted a bunk bed, economy being the watchword. Cram as many sleeping bodies together with the pretence of seclusion. None of the cabins had windows. She’d joked she’d slept in bigger coffins to Giles but he’d just grunted and curled up on the bottom bunk.

She was dreaming again of warm places when the noise started again and this time he was really screaming. It took a moment to realise there was also hammering on their cabin door and angry words. She was grateful she hadn’t undressed for sleep as she scooted down from the top bunk.

“Not here Giles please…” she begged.

He was still asleep despite his screams and this was the big problem. She could never wake him up. In three nights she’d tried everything: shaking him, slapping him, hugging him but touching him only seemed to make it worse. He’d nearly gone over a balcony the first night because she couldn’t get him to wake and realise where he was. If she hadn’t had a Slayer’s strength he’d have fallen. He needed her to be strong for him but at times like these all she could do was talk to him. “Giles please wake up.” She felt horribly inadequate as the door to their cramped cabin pass keyed opened and the large German Stewardess called Magna, Buffy remembered from the dining hall, imposed herself in the room.

“Is everything OK in here? Sir?” Giles quietened immediately and flinched back into the corner of the bunk. Buffy knew it wasn’t over. Magna was solidly built and her name badge indicated she spoke four languages; she looked the sort that didn’t brook a lot of trouble in any of them. “Sir?” she repeated in a surprisingly gentle voice as she approached the bunks.

Buffy darted up from her knees. “Hi, yes I’m really sorry about all this.” Giles started to punch the wall behind her. The stewardess ignored Buffy and bent down to study Giles.

“Sir, you need to stop that,” she said kindly. Giles immediately complied which rankled with Buffy slightly. Magna turned to her. “I’m afraid I’ll have to ask you both to come with me. We can’t have you disturbing the other passengers like this.”

Outside there were mumblings of ‘damn right too’. ‘Guy is possessed or something.’ And an alarming call of ‘Throw them in the brig’. Buffy balked at that thought; Giles’ new found claustrophobia at being in any way locked up was going to make that difficult.

“Just give me a moment to get our things together.” Magna agreed and went to disperse the rubberneckers. Buffy stuffed what few things had spilled out of their bags together and looked at Giles.

“Are you awake yet? We’re on the ferry to England, do you remember?”

Giles was muttering “Can you move?” to himself.

“Great. Let’s not do that one again. Giles! We have to get up now. I’m afraid they want to move us somewhere more er.. sound proof.”

Buffy carried the bags while Magna took Giles’ arm and led them through the maze of corridors. Their cabin had been pretty much in the bowels of the ship and she took them up several flights of steps until they stepped on a carpeted walkway with fewer doors and nicer light fittings.

“Let’s try this first. There’s no one else on this deck and the cabin is a good size. Plenty of port holes and there’s a door to a promenade deck.” The stewardess regarded Giles and added, “But I think we should keep that locked under the circumstances.”

She took a bunch of keys to the door to what was clearly first class accommodation with a large double bed and its own ensuite bathroom. The bath alone looked bigger than anything Buffy had slept in the past three nights.

“Wow. Thank you so much,” said Buffy. She dropped the bags and felt a twinge of inadequacy as this comparative stranger helped Giles sit on the bed without him freaking.

“Good night sir,” Magna said giving his shoulder a squeeze and motioned to Buffy to talk to her out in the corridor. “Will your friend be OK now?”

“Oh yes I’m sure he will. I think it was just a bit of claustrophobia. We booked last minute and couldn’t get anything but economy.”

The Stewardess nodded at the obvious lie. “Does he have any medication he could take? It is none of my business but have you thought about getting professional help for him?”

“Oh we are. Yes, getting the help. That’s why we’re going to England. There’s some people there we hope can help.” Buffy thanked her again and sparkled what she hoped were reassuring smiles. She closed the door and sighed. At least they wouldn’t be disturbing anyone here. She turned to see the outside door of their new cabin was wide open and Giles was no-where in sight. She bolted outside. “Giles!”

He was seated on a stack of inflatable life rafts, lighting a cigarette. Buffy didn’t approve of his latest disgusting habit but at least if he could set fire to one of his little sticks of death then he was probably, finally, fully awake.

“Please stop fussing,” he muttered. She had been moving to join him but she stopped awkwardly at the rebuke.

He’d put his shoes on but otherwise sat in only a black tee-shirt and jeans as the biting wind tore through Buffy.

“Aren’t you cold?” she asked.

“Not especially.” He swung his thick dark framed glasses away from her and stared at the sea. It was a dark sky and the only lights were from their ferry. The sea was black around them but relatively calm for a late December crossing. The surface was choppy but contained for now. Buffy knew oceans and seas held cold long depths. She had a strong desire to get back inside.

He took a deep pull on his cigarette. “I’m sorry I embarrassed you.” The words plumed with smoke.

“No biggie. We’re been upgraded. That’s a good thing. We should do it more often.”

“I think I should go to the Coven alone.”

Buffy was stunned. “You need me to protect you.”

“I have actually managed quite well on my own up to this point,” he chaffed.

They had come so far across Europe and they would dock in England tomorrow. Almost home. She’d been looking forward to seeing England, she felt she knew it through him.

“We go together,” she said with stubbornness. “You and me Giles. Against the world if necessary.”

He stared at the waves, no longer impressed by her grand promises. “Do you sense anything here? Is there any kind of threat on board?”

“No, nothing. But I’m here if anything does decide to jump out at you. Slayer on guard.”

“Something is out there. Something is stalking me.”

“There’s no threat here.” She tried levity. “Unless you are telling me there such things are sea demons?” but it washed over board as easily as her other sentences.

“Something beneath the surface. Oh maybe it’s the lack of sleep.” He rubbed his eyes. “Maybe I am going crazy. Whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad eh?”

Buffy fought the urge to bite her lip. She hated this spell that was changing him. Ever since she’d died defeating Glory he’d been affected by something that drove him apart from other people. Their best guess what that it was something done to him by the Council to make him her Watcher and it needed to be stopped.

“I’ve got your back,” she said quietly.

“This isn’t working out very well. I don’t feel I can outrun it if you’re with me. I feel like I’m your prisoner.”

“No you’re not. Not at all. I’m just trying to protect you.”

“And I appreciate it but it’s as if you are smothering me at times. I need my own space.”

“I can’t let you go Giles.”

“So we are prisoner and escort. Marvellous.”

Buffy folded her arms. “You need help and I’m going to help you.”

“I need to be on my own,” Giles snapped. He relented and apologised with a dart of his eyes.

“Let’s just see the Coven tomorrow,” said Buffy, “Let’s work this thing out together.”

He’d done so much for her in the past, sacrificed so much that it dreadful to think he didn’t want her around. She took step nearer but Giles stood up abruptly and flicked his cigarette into the sea.

“I’ll take the floor, you have the bed,” he declared.

“No, you should-”

He pushed past her. “We dock in four hours Buffy, so let’s just try to get some sleep.”

***

Giles pushed the fourth peg into the ground and stretched the connecting strings taut. His lines looked good enough but he adjusted them till he was sure. He picked his spade up and worked the edges along his linear perimeter. Two inches down, a spade width all along. He then did the same across the area, marking stripes in the turf, before turning the handle and cutting under his strips. They rolled easily and he placed them on his tarpaulin in order. The evening light was fading but he focused on his careful tasks.

The ground broke, he started on the laborious spade work, driving down into the hard Sunnydale earth. He trenched his way in sections descending until he could barely see the top of his handiwork, only the stars. He climbed out with some difficulty and sat with his legs dangling over the edge, watching the worms he hadn’t stood on writhe themselves back underground.

“Watcher.”

Giles had heard someone approach; he hadn’t really been bothered to wonder who.

“Hello Spike.”

The vampire stood on the opposite edge and looked across. “When?”

“Midnight,” replied Giles. “Dawn will want you there.” He rose, his limbs suddenly very tired from the effort of staying awake, picked up his spade and walked away.

***

It was the feel of the car slowing down that woke Buffy. She’d watched the sun rise and the ferry dock from the comfort of the bed and had listened to Giles’ quiet breathing. She hadn’t had a lot of experience of sharing a room with him, but she didn’t think he slept either. They hired a car immediately and she let Giles take the wheel. He’d seemed a lot less cranky in daylight and they bickered amiably enough over the merits (apparently none) of gas station tea. The novelty on being in the left hand side of the road lasted only 10 minutes and she fiddled with the heating controls to get them to maximum. She was lulled to sleep by the grey landscape and Giles’ easy confident driving. He was home of course; it was all so familiar to him. Knowing she couldn’t lose him if they were both in the same car so she allowed herself to drift off.

Now they were slowing down and she woke. They were on a single lane road with very few cars in the opposite direction; everything ahead of them was slowing down.

“Traffic jam?” she said, more to confirm she was awake. Giles grunted as they were forced to come to a stop and wait. The road was flanked by narrow ditches and low hedgerows which sparkled with cobwebbed jewellery. The fields beyond wore a morning frost like a delicate lace. There was an old fashioned charm to the winter morning like an old lady just rising to greet the day. Winter may have stripped some of her luscious beauty but her elegance was eternal.

A single car drove slowly down the opposite lane, occasionally stopping to talk to other cars with smiles and shrugs. The driver had his family in the car, two children fighting in the back.

Giles dropped his window and nodded.

“What’s the problem up ahead?”

“Police roadblock. Checking everyone by the looks. Drink driving campaign this Christmas I’d have thought. Happy New Year mate.” The children stuck their tongues out as they drove off.

The car in front of them crawled forward two feet before its red brake lights signalled the end of that sprint of hope. Giles sat gripping the steering wheel. A further crawl left a car’s length between them and a toot of a horn behind tried to encourage him but still he didn’t move.

“What are you thinking?” Buffy began warily

He put the car slowly in gear to Buffy’s relief “Good boy,” she muttered. Decisively, Giles then hauled the steering wheel sharply about. He powered across the road and slammed back into reverse hitting the tail of the neighbouring vehicle. The manoeuvre attracted attention and Buffy heard a nee-nah noise of a siren up the road. The driver of the damaged car leapt out angrily and tried to pull on the door. Giles skidded the wheels in drive and powered away, sending the other man flying to the tarmac. Buffy looked in the mirror to see if he got up whilst the sirens started to get louder.

“Giles. What the hell are you doing?”

“It’s ten o’clock in the morning. Nobody road blocks for drunk drivers at this time of day. Not in this country anyway.” He increased his speed to evade the sirens.

“Stop the car. Pull over Giles. They are not looking for us.”

He displayed no such intention and she daren’t grab the wheel. The needle was pushing sixty as they shot away from the roadblock up the side of the delayed traffic until they were out on an open road.

“This is madness. Please... That’s the police chasing us.”

Giles looked straight ahead, he crossed a junction causing other cars to brake and sound their displeasure. Buffy looked over her shoulder, their chasers had a more powerful vehicle and were gaining. There was no way this getaway could end well.

She saw the cyclist on the bend before he did. Slayer senses perhaps. The ability to anticipate disaster and gain a fraction of a second’s advantage to prevent it. Not much help when you are the passenger. “Stop the car, stop the car!” she screamed.

“Shit!” He’d seen it. Giles pushed the brakes and tried to take a wide line, he missed the cyclist but the car was out of control and bounced off the opposite side of the road. He pulled the wheel frantically but this only drove them back through the hedgerow on the nearside. The field beyond was lower than the road and there was a six foot drop. The car turned sickening on to the passenger side as it fell and crunched to its final stop with shocking violence. Two side wheels spun helplessly on their broken axles.

Chapter Two

Tags: buffy/giles, xmasfic
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