liliaeth and I finally sent out a missing person’s report and came up with this interlude of Beloved. It takes place at the end of the first week of William’s captivity. Please follow the Warning Alert System.
William is still just ten years old.
Good Lord, don’t people ever stop talking? Listen closely – they might actually be saying something important here.
Please, as always, read and comment! We’ve taken to strapping the muse into her little bed each night. We think she actually likes it. Feedback is always welcomed.
Goddess bless willa_writes - my inspiration and wonderbeta, and hugs to gillo. We’re just thrilled this chapter didn’t kill her.
To read Beloved from the beginning, go Here.
Full-sized banner by liliaeth beneath the cut.
Beloved – Interlude 16-17D – Eyes Wide Shut
Lydia knocked on her superior’s door with trepidation. These days, the fear of catching him unawares dictated caution.
Please let this not be one of those days that he’s forgotten to put on his pants and trousers.
“M’busy. G’way,” came the muffled reply.
Risking her dignity and his, Lydia let herself into the office. A quick look around found the answering machine light blinking fullfullfull, papers strewn all over the desk and… following the paper trail she looked down at the floor and gasped. Rupert Giles was slumped against the base of his desk, more reclining than upright, and it didn’t look like it had been his intention. His glasses were askew on his face, and his hair disheveled. It looked like he’d been lying there for hours.
“Mr. Giles?” She knelt at the man’s side, concerned that he’d suffered an injury when he’d fallen.
He was staring at his hands as if they were priceless artifacts. Turned them this way and that; first clenching then unclenching his fists.
“How did it all get away from us, Ms. Chalmers?”
“It used to be so easy. Me, Watcher. Buffy, Slayer. Identify the monster of the week, point at the vampire and the Slayer did the rest.”
“Please, Sir. You need to get up from the floor.” Lydia extended her hand, which he brushed away.
“Now… now we have Slayerstatues, and-and souled vampires. Resurrections and Shan-shanso-shoshan… vampires turned human. Mustn’t kill ‘em – one might save the world.” Giles’ voice was tinged with bitterness. “When did it get so grey?”
This time, Lydia insisted he get up, pulling the frail looking man off the floor and settling him onto his leather sofa.
“It was always gray, Sir,” she said, fluffing a pillow behind his head. “We just never deigned to see it that way.”
As his head lolled back against the pillow, Lydia’s concern grew. “Are you all right, Mr. Giles? Should I call for a doctor?”
“They won’t tell me…” A severe coughing spell interrupted his speech. By the time Lydia had retrieved the wastebasket, the senior Watcher had turned alarmingly pale. He spat into the bin and continued. “They won’t tell me anything anymore. They’ve cast me out. Ignore what I say. Wheel me out like the Queen on parade from time to time, then it’s back in my cupboard just like a bleedin’ bank manager.”
He shivered, pulling up the throw from the arm of the sofa. “Their latest plan… it will destroy so many people if they carry it out.”
Dear Lord, he knows. What plan, Mr. Giles?” she asked anyway, unwilling to believe he had anything to do with it.
“Mustn’t tell. Mustn’t let anyone know. It’s a secret,” he giggled, unable to stop until it turned into another coughing fit.
“Mr. Giles… Rupert… look at me.” Lydia could see there was something very wrong. He was more than drunk. His movements had been jerky, his body shook and his eyes were unfocused. “Have you taken anything? Any medications along with your drink?”
Giles giggled again. “Drink!” he snorted. “That’s the key. Such a pretty green.”
Lydia knelt down beside the desk to reach into the lower drawers, finding a glass-stoppered bottle with at most a finger’s worth of bright green liquid inside underneath. She removed the stopper and delicately sniffed at the contents, dreading the confirmation of what she already suspected: absinthe!
“Oh for God’s sake, Rupert. What the bloody hell have you been doing to yourself?” she whispered.
Breaking the lock on the drawer, she found an unopened bottle, as well.
“Mr. Giles,” she said, shoving the opened bottle in front of the disoriented man. “Where did you get this? How long have you been drinking absinthe?”
“S’a pressie. For being a good boy and signing all my papers.” He reached out for the bottle, only to have his hand slapped away. “Mine,” he insisted. “From His Majestic Arsehole, Wyndam-Pryce, himself.” Once more giggles overtook the man, ending up as body-wracking coughs.
Roger Wyndam-Pryce! She should have known the bastard was behind this. How could he add fuel to an already raging fire like this?
“Sorry,” Giles whispered. “Need to apologize. Make her see. Stop the bloody ringing in my head, over and over. Makes my ears close and my eyes bleed.”
“Apologize to whom, Sir?”
He turned to her, then, grasping her hands and looking directly into her eyes. “Oh, Buffy! I’m so sorry. You were right. Right. Wrong, stupid old man. So sorry, love.”
Damn it! For a moment Lydia thought – had hoped, that her boss was connecting with the real world. Patience is a virtue, she reminded herself. “Mr. Giles, it’s been ten years since you’ve spoken with your Slayer. What could you possibly have done that you need to apologize for now?”
“Smart girl you are, Buffy. Should have known,” he mumbled. “Right, right. And me. So wrong and thick. And stuck.”
Lydia was getting more confused by the second. All she could do at that point was go with his delusions. Perhaps gain some insight into what was driving him to destruction.
He looked at her again, and smiled. “Sweet girl, you’ve forgiven me, yes?”
The pleading in his eyes was heartbreaking. It wasn’t possible that he was seeing her, Lydia. No, in his mind and heart… he was seeing Buffy Summers,
“Of course I have,” she replied, playing along… but she could see he was already removed from their ‘conversation’.
Best to let the man sleep it off before she brought a doctor to call. Rupert Giles was in serious trouble, and it was well past time to act on his behalf.
As she headed out the door, Lydia heard him murmur: “If Spike is that much trouble to handle, I’ll gladly take him off your hands.”
She watched the man pass out as she reached for the phone. There really wasn’t a moment left to lose.
Giles wheeled the giant-sized buggy down the hallway and into Spike’s room. “C’mon, big bad. Time to let Daddy take you home.”
His Slayer guard followed him into the room, chattering happily. All these children needing his protection. Father to many, Sire to none.
“Can we feed ‘im?” the little redhead asked.
“We’ll hold the blood bottles just right so he won’t sick up on himself,” the brunette promised.
“Now, now, children. You mustn’t scare the little vampire. He’s one of a kind, you know.” He turned, walking straight into a wall of brood.
“It’s time for me to take the boy back where he belongs, Angel. I’m sure it’s in his best interest, after all.”
“Back to the chains? Back to the dungeons?” Angel demanded, surrounding himself with a cloak of darkness.
The cruel, evil vibe emanating from the angry vampire made Giles happy to have brought the Slayers with him, guarding his back. If only they’d actually pay attention to him and not the little blond in the bed.
“No, Angel,” he said, soothing a lock of hair from Spike’s vampire visage. “We’ll find a place for him. He’ll adapt, as he’s always done. He has worked for us before, as you’ll recall.”
But the dark vampire wouldn’t listen as he steadfastly blocked the door.
“He’ll be of great use to the Council, with his knowledge of demons and their customs,” Giles insisted. “And if his hands grow back, he’ll have all the fighting he can handle.”
“And if he doesn’t recover? I already have a place for him, Watcher. He belongs with me,” Angel insisted.
“I don’t understand what the fuss is all about. You don’t even like him.”
When he looked up, it was Angelus facing him, the grin gracing his face sending shivers down Giles’ spine, bringing with it the odd flashing images of hands fading in and out, wielding a bloodied chainsaw.
“He’s mine, old man,” the vampire roared. “You’ll do well to keep your hands off m’boy.”
“What? You’re the only one who’s allowed to lay your hands on him? You’d like that, wouldn’t you, Angelus? To push him on his knees and make him beg you for scraps of attention.”
The vampire’s smirk was enough of an answer. Giles knew he wasn’t going to win. It didn’t mean he was going to give up trying.
“He’s a child, Angel. A little boy playing at dressing-up in his father’s clothing. William needs guidance, and you’re the last person he should be getting it from.”
“But I think…”
“Shut up, boy,” both Watcher and Vampire chorused.
“Little boys should be seen and not heard,” said Giles.
“I want my Daddy,” came Will’s teary eyed rejoinder. “I want to go home.”
“Daddy’s here, William.”
Angel was gone, however, and his voice echoed in the room.
“Daddy!” the boy shrieked.
And the world went black.