The Cost of Giles
Ch 22 – Complicated Relations
Dawn and Carole Stein were watching ‘Ice Princess’ with a large bowl of popcorn. Or, at least they allegedly were. It was more like Dawn was only half-glancing at the television, in between staring out of the window at the driving rains and the dazzling lightning display.
“I’m sure that everything is going to work out, Sweetheart,” Carole said as Dawn headed back to the sofa again, and again sighing aloud.
“You don’t understand,” Dawn complained. “Xander’s not himself. He… look, it’s complicated. Let’s just say that he has a split personality sort of thingie – only not really,” she huffed, obviously frustrated. “It’s another Hellmouth-slash-Sunnydale thing. And, the one in control right now is a headcase.”
“At least your insect bites have gone away; maybe that’s a good sign. They could have been a lot worse, I guess… or at least hung around and itched a lot longer,” Carole tried.
This did nothing to relieve Dawn of her worry. The weather outside was absolutely insane and Xander and Spike were now out there. That wasn’t all, though it was certainly at the top of the list of things to worry over. Tara and
With another sighed she left the sofa to wander to the window. “I don’t believe in ‘good omens’ she told her reflection. “The only thing you can count on is that things go bad.”
“Oh, Dawn… that just isn’t so,” Carole said with some sympathy, but the girl didn’t respond.
Rick wandered the floor of the hospital in a funk. He was soaked through to the skin, despite his raincoat and the building was too chilly for comfort. The ‘head doctors’ were examining Julie Marcom before they decided if she was ‘competent’ enough to be questioned.
Something about the way that Julie had apparently snapped so soon and in such close proximity to when the ambulance driver, Ryan Crest, had also so recently gone nutso didn’t sit well.
Since coming into contact with Rupert Giles and the friends of Buffy Summers, it was difficult not to see some mysterious hand behind everything that occurred. He kept catching himself giving a second look at his captain, his fellow officers and even random people on the street. At this rate, he might end up going a bit nutso-cuckoo, himself.
A nurse came out of the room that he knew Julie was in and he stepped in front of her as she marched with purpose.
“Excuse me,” he said, flashing his badge. “I’m Detective Stein… I’m looking for information on Marcom, Julie. I was hoping to speak to her?”
“The doctors know you’re out here,” she said impatiently. “Right now, we have work to do. The poor woman… well, despite what she may have done, I can tell you she’s not remorseless. Now, excuse me…,” she brushed past him.
At the abandoned iron works building, Xander and Spike hung out just inside the doorway. They’d tried to begin the walk back to Dawn’s house, but the wind and rain made it nearly impossible to see. Adding the amount of lightning going on out of doors, they’d quickly retreated back out of the weather.
“I wonder if Warren and them made it out of here, or if they’re lurking around in the dark somewhere,” Xander questioned softly.
“Don’t smell ‘em. How are your arms? I could search for a phone in this dump…, get an ambulance out here?”
“Nah. They sting, but no worse than the bug bites. At least that part is over, by the looks. Besides, I’ve had enough hospitals already. I’m not bleeding, anymore….”
“I could tell. Still, you went through the front glass pane and hit the ground pretty hard.”
“The win…,” Xander’s words were interrupted by a put-upon groan. “That’s gonna cost a small fortune to fix, and I’m going to get stuck with the work.”
“That’s nothing. Apparently the television was killed, too. No doubt, Dawn will be demanding a new one immediately,” he gave a smirk, before pulling a drag on his cigarette.
“Maybe Giles can cover that. So, are we going to talk about it?”
“Don’t play dumb, Spike. You, me… the cross of ‘stay the hell away from me’? I think we should discuss.”
“I don’t,” Spike took a step away from him to lean against the door jamb.
Xander sighed guiltily and looked out at the raging storm. He gave a quick thought to Hyena, but she either wasn’t going to or couldn’t respond, yet. This was probably a good, since it would take her little time to see that the intention was there to drink the potion, despite their deal.
Pulling up to Giles’ again, al Rashid was quickly out of the car while
“Are you prepared,” the wizard asked, with only a glance at her.
“As I ever will be.”
Ahead of them, the Quesslers dashed into the field, their images distorting in a fun house mirror sort of way. But, it was obvious from
“That glow is indicating where they are disrupting the time field. Allowing normal time to operate in those breaches,” Alican told her, unprompted. “Alas, we won’t be able to follow them. We’ll have to wait until the temporal field collapses completely.”
“How will that happen? What if Giles defeats them?”
“Rupert is a very resourceful man. I have little doubt he’ll hold his own, despite their resistance to magical energies. But, this field is being held in place by his will. It is my sincerest hope that as he engages the Shadowrealm Quesslers, the part of his mind currently engaged in its upkeep will turn to defense, instead.”
“You really do know him, don’t you?”
There was a breath of silence, excepting the storm. Then Alican al Rashid turned to meet her questioning gaze. “If not for Rupert Giles, I would not have the life I have. I… owe him a great debt. One which, despite earlier words, I do not truly believe I will ever fully satisfy. He is… remarkable.”
Ripper sat on the floor, concentrating with his mind’s eye. He had clearly felt his friend’s slipping onto this plain and into Buffy’s home earlier. But, almost immediately, he’d lost sight of him for reasons he could not explain. And, he didn’t like it. It made him… grumpy.
He had scoured the area of town where Buffy had lived and had not detected any sort of spell energy. Something he should have been able to do, even masking spells, thanks to his own incantation found on page 32 of the ‘Book of Midnight’.
Abu Karim Abu Eken Alican al-Rashid ibn Timur ibn Zeren ibn Yener ibn Zafer al Türkiye is powerful, Ripper thought in a snit, But I am far superior… even he cannot hide from the Book’s incantations, he insisted to himself.
The harem he had gathered were now currently in the bedroom upstairs, under a mystical sleep. He had hoped for an entire evening of entertainment, but the moment that he’d sensed al Rashid’s re-appearance, he’d known that a battle was coming. He just didn’t think it would occur so soon.
You’re not tricking me, old friend. If you had slipped back to the Darkrealms, I would have felt you leave. No, you are close by working on some way to get through my barrier, he steamed.
And, then the door was battered in, and creatures he was not immediately able to identify rushed in.
Ripper got to his feet as fast as he could. But, before he was able to stand fully, still clutching the book that was dearer to him than all else, one of the creatures was biting his leg and two others were in mid-leap for his face!
There was only quiet from the brooding vampire as both men watched the storm.
“Spike, if you keep this up, you’re in danger of becoming Angel, Junior,” Xan tried.
Still, the vampire wouldn’t speak or look at him.
“What more can I say? I’ve apologized,” Xander insisted, a trace of frustration in his voice now.
“Not the point. You shouldn’t have had to apologize, ‘cause you shouldn’t have doubted me,” Spike muttered. “And, you’re an asshole. Which, I always thought, by the way… little Slayer lapdog, always having to be saved.”
“Hey! You want to argue about the display on the floor, fine, but don’t get insulting just to be insulting; especially if you want to drag Buffy into it!”
There was a full minute of silence between them, each fuming.
“Fine,” Spike finally said. “But, I still don’t want to talk to you about it. You should have trusted me… even with my obviously strangling you. I don’t know how you could have listened to her over me. Insane, that’s what it was. You’re obviously insane.”
“Fine. I’m insane. I still happen to love you, though. At least, a little bit.”
Spike gave him a sullen glare. “Dru wouldn’t have doubted me.”
“Dru isn’t human and mortal. Plus, she really is crazy, which sort of points to my having reacted sanely… if you really look at it,” Xan gave him a small smirk.
“Don’t try cute! This isn’t cute. You pulled a cross on me.”
“I’m sorry, is that the worse thing I’ve ever done to you? Hell, is it the worse thing you’ve ever done to me… I seem to recall a concussion via countertop.”
“It was a microscope, Idiot. I picked up a microscope and bashed you with it. And, that was different. We weren’t shagging, then. In fact, I would have been more likely to shag Red. Probably, while biting her.”
“And, this is supposed to keep me feeling guilty over not blindly trusting you while you’re strangling me, how, exactly? And, since you brought up Drusilla… didn’t you betray her when helping Buffy stop Angelus?”
“… You know something,” Spike glanced over at Xander with his smirk back in place, “You and I have a really warped history together.”
“Love on the Hellmouth, Baby. Love on the Hellmouth. So, we gonna be okay, you think?”
“Yeah, whatever. Fine. We’re okay, I guess. Still pissed at you, though, a little.”
“Then, let’s get back to that phone idea. Maybe we can get one of the girls to drive out here and pick us up?”
“Sounds like a plan,” Spike nodded. “But if we can’t find one, we could always have sex instead.”
“Better plan than mine,” Xan smiled.
End Ch 22