Conversations
Author: Wickedfox


Buffy's pulse heightened as she neared the last gateway, a harsh reminder of the menace that awaited her beyond the barrier. A hulking attendant stood up as she approached and smiled courteously.

"Welcome miss Summers," his thick English accent almost threw her, she wasn't used to this environment. Buffy always wanted to visit England but never under such circumstances. "We've set up a chair for you. He's at the end of the hall." The man flipped some switches and the roar of old gears creaked as the metal bar gate began to slide out of her path.

"Is there anyone else down there?" She really didn't want any spectators for this confrontation; it was already a difficult situation.

"No one else in this wing, miss. It isn't allowed. He requires…special care." The man examined a screen beside him as he returned to his chair. "Everything's checked out."

A chill ran up her spine as she walked past the open gate and looked down the dark narrow hall. He knew she was there. She paused and turned back toward the attendant.

"What do you mean…special care?" She asked, fearing the answer.

"Well miss…you know the nature of his, um…crimes?" The man spoke delicately, trying not the worry her any more than she already was.

"Yes, unfortunately." Buffy's stomach churned with the memory.

"Special precautions are taken with him. The cell is sealed with a protective barrier."

"Electrified or something?"

"Spell actually…magic. Keeps him from working the dark powers or some absurd thing."

"Fighting fire with fire," she said nervously. Buffy knew she didn't handle battling magic very well, she preferred tangible weapons such as stakes and swords. Magic was something she couldn't wield and didn't understand, making it a perfect Achilles' heel for her. She smirked; at least she knew her weaknesses.

"Remember, don't touch the bars. Don't hand him anything. If you need me…I'll be right here."

"Thank you," as she took a few steps down the hall the attendant stood up and raised a hand, hesitant to speak.

"Miss Summers? Can I ask a personal question?" He really didn't intend for her to agree to his prying but his curiosity got the best of him.

"Sure," she smiled.

"What happened?" His eyes were full of disgust as he glanced down the hall and back at Buffy.

It was the question everyone had been asking and she had no answer. Nothing could explain the sudden turn of events, the sudden transformation of this gentle and kind soul to the murderous psychotic he'd become.

"That's what I'm here to find out." She took a deep breath and continued her way down the hall, listening to the gate creak closed behind her.

With every step, she was reminded of how alone she was. Her only companions were the array of surveillance cameras following her movement down the shadowy passage. One camera was fixed at the end of the hall, focused on the cell she was determined to reach in spite of what her spidey-sense was telling her.

'I'm glad you came,' the familiar calming voice wasn't spoken aloud; it was placed into her mind. It didn't startle her as it had before. She'd over reacted to the calling she'd received two weeks ago. It was understandable; she didn't recognize its nature then. Now she knew its source and purpose.

The empty cells she passed on her way provided some comfort; this could be a private conversation except for the Council observers on the receiving end of the video cameras. As she made her way to the final cell, she decided she didn't want to look into it until she'd made her way to the chair placed there for her.

Buffy set her bag down on the ground, catching a glimpse of his figure out of the corner of her eye. She turned around to situate herself in the chair but paused mid-sitting at the sight of him. Her legs went dead with her initial instinct to rush over and hug him. Though he smiled warmly with his head tilted slightly in a show of gentle caring, she sensed the deception hidden behind his eyes. It was their first meeting since he and Willow had departed for England and she found herself cursing him for bringing her there.

"Hello Buffy." His voice resonated with hidden power as he sat relaxed in a plastic chair, holding a book in his lap.

"Hello Giles," she forced a smile but he saw through it, grinning at the obvious attempt at affection. She finally sat down, thankful of the dwindling feeling of numbness in her legs. He looked thin and worn, she wondered if the Council had mistreated him. Buffy examined his grayish cell, a space void of any flourish or personality, the only color being his bright blue jumpsuit with a series of numbers and letters across the chest. A simple mattress was positioned in the corner of the dreary enclosure, a toilet opposite it and a sink, the barest of essentials.

"I wish this visit was in regards to cheerier circumstances." He said empathetically and Buffy thought she sensed a hint of embarrassment in his tone.

"So do I," she gritted her teeth at his behavior. He should be acting like a raving maniac based on the atrocities preformed at his whim. It would make the visit easier on her if he showed some sign of his wickedness or insanity.

"It's good to see you Buffy. You brighten up this weary place." He placed the book he'd been reading on the ground.

Buffy didn't understand the words on the cover; it was a foreign language. It made her want to cry, the waste of his intellect and the distortion of his knowledge. "I wish I could say the same."

"You're not pleased to see me? I'm wounded." Giles leaned forward and rested his elbows on his knees, intertwining his fingers. This position brought him a foot away from the bars.

Buffy found his proximity alarming; she was only a few feet from the bars separating her from him.

"You're frightened…how charming," he stood up and looked down at her, a motion Buffy recognized as an effort to look more intimidating.

"Yes. Just like you are of me."

"I suppose. You are the only individual I am aware of who can affect me so," he returned to his chair. Buffy took notice of his subtle movement of sliding the chair closer to the bars. "I've missed you."

Buffy considered those words for a moment, trying to unravel their true meaning.

"Honestly…I miss you." Giles smiled warmly with creases of compassion decorating his forehead.

"I miss you." Buffy couldn't stop the words from escaping her lips even though she knew that was exactly what he wanted to hear. She silently cursed him again. After a brief exchange of nervous glances, Buffy sighed heavily. Giles smiled as he sensed the impending question he'd been waiting for her to ask.

"Why? Giles…why?" Her eyes pleaded for an explanation. "Thirteen men and women. People you knew…people you worked with."

"I haven't an answer." Giles spoke softly as he looked down the hall.

Buffy wouldn't accept that and continued, "And Olivia?"

"What do you want to hear Buffy?"

"Anything. Give me a reason. Give me something to stop me from…from…"

"Killing me?" His eyes stared expectantly at her. That was why she was there, to rid the world of another abomination. Or at least that's why she thought she was there; Giles knew better. He knew the Council had better plans for him than reducing him to ashes, as was the usual treatment for traitors.

"Hating you!" Her eyes begged him for some explanation, some answer that could give her comfort.

The phrase stung and Giles had to look away from her disapproving eyes. He fixed his stare on her bag and regrouped the emotions he feared would show through.

"Do what you must…I have no explanation for my deeds."

"Deeds? Giles, you killed…correction, slaughtered Olivia. How could you? She was an old friend of yours, a lover for Christ sake. They could barely identify what was left."

Giles closed his eyes, deeply concentrating on something. His face turned stern, jaw clenching under the strain of what he was doing. After a moment of what looked to be pain, he opened his eyes with a sad look. His eyes peeked down the hall and back to Buffy.

"What can I say, I liked having her…around," he articulated the last word with a slight circling motion of a finger and smiled at his wit.

Buffy was speechless at the brutality of his humor. It was the first clue at the evil lying beneath his mild surface. She decided to get more personal, hit closer to home, her home. "And Xander?"

Giles glanced away again and she knew the question bothered him. "What of him? I hope he's well."

"You know what you did to him." Though it was a statement, the tone hinted Buffy's doubt. She hoped he wouldn't remember what horror he'd put Xander through, as if he'd been possessed when he'd done the deed.

"I never laid a finger on the boy," Giles grinned, glancing up with a cutting stare through shadows cast by his brow.

"You didn't have to," Buffy's hope for some justification of his actions vanished with his depraved smile. Anger welled in her gut and she felt an overwhelming urge to strangle the beast that sat before her, the monster that had taken her friend. But she knew in her heart this was no demon; it was the corruption of the man she once held dear. "You tortured him…" she wouldn't allow a show of tears at the chilling moment.

"I never touched him," he watched, waiting for a reaction.

"You did…mentally, magically…you tortured him. You…you bastard!" Buffy had to look away, pretending to be distracted by the guard at the end of the hallway. She needed relief from his unhindered stare.

Giles sat up straight and casually crossed his legs, placing his hands on his lap, "I sensed him thinking of me one day. A flickering moment of recollection, I wanted him to know I was thinking of him as well." His smile had faded and his eyes fell to his hands.

Buffy wanted to believe it was regret but knew better. "I think of you all the time. Why him? Why not me?"

Giles eyes looked back down the hall and again at Buffy. 'End this…they're coming,' he thought.

"Why? There is no why, Buffy." He leaned forward again and stared intensely at her, displaying an unsettling look of concern. "You need to get more fun out of life. Enjoy the little pleasures of…say…friendship."

With that subtle taunt, her composure shattered. She slammed into the bars, the old metal bending under the stress of her Slayer strength. A tingle of energy flowed across her chest as she strained to reach Giles who sat motionless, smiling tenderly at her. She could have sworn he was proud. Buffy reached through the barrier pleading to the powers that be to grant her one more inch so she could snap his wretched neck. The rustling of hurried feet and jingling of keys caught her attention and she glanced out of the corner of her eye to see what the commotion was.

"Get back…" the large guard came running down the hall. Two other large attendants followed.

"Don't touch the bars!"

When Buffy looked back at Giles, his eyes were different, black and ominous. She'd seen those eyes before, they meant trouble.

"Get away from the bars!" One guard yelled, pulling a gun from his holster.

"Thank you, Buffy," Giles whispered with a wicked grin. Her anger dissolved into paralyzing fear as she saw the familiar dark veins webbing across his features. He took her hand and kissed it gently.

"Damn…" she gasped, shocked at what Giles had become. She'd seen Willow imbued with black magic but Giles was horrifying; he radiated darkness, vengeance and hate.

Just as the guards reached her, the hall filled with blinding light. Bolts of red energy ripped through the air and struck the guards in the face, sending them crashing into the brick wall behind Buffy. She froze in position, arms still reaching through the bars. The sickly sweet scent of burning flesh hung thick in the air as the light mellowed and she could make out Giles form still sitting calmly in front of her.

"See you soon," he said with a wink and vanished.

She couldn't move; shock and adrenalin rushing through her as she realized what she'd done. Her arms lowered and her eyes examined the bars with disappointment. It was her fault, she'd interrupted the spell with her foolish actions.

"What have you done?" A demanding voice yelled from down the hall. She could only stare forward in disbelief as the rushed footsteps settled beside her.

"I should have known…bloody Slayer."

Buffy recognized the sardonic tone; she turned slowly and looked up at the unsympathetic face of Ethan Rayne.



Part 2...