Conversations Part 2
"Ripper's a handful luv; you better get that through that lovely thick
skull of yours." Though he was trying to appear angry, Ethan's cocky grin
didn't make him seem truly upset.
"Ethan? Why are you here?" Buffy's mind flashed back to the last time
she'd seen Ethan, being taken away in handcuffs by the Initiative. How'd
"What do you think? Who else can keep Ripper from laying waste to the
entire city?" He knelt beside a smoldering attendant and glanced at the
charred remains, quickly catching himself from revisiting the snack he'd
"Well…I'd say these gents are extra crispy." Ethan stood up a bit too
fast for his stomach. "Since I won't be eating for…the …rest…of my life…"
Ethan swallowed down the sour taste in his mouth, "Let's go get a pint!"
"I don't drink," Buffy said in a daze, collecting her bag and standing
"You do now! Come on." He took her arm and guided her back down the
hall, not allowing her linger too long at the corpses of the men that adorned
the walkway. His hand tightened as she slowed her pace while passing the
remains of the attendant she'd spoken to.
"I'm sorry," she mumbled.
Ethan tugged at her arm and forced her to continue past the gate. "Better
place, luv. They've gone on to a better place. Can't say the same for us
if we don't get out of here now!"
A team of heavily armed soldiers met the odd couple as they exited the third
"Rayne, building's in lock-down. You can't leave." A soldier ordered.
"Frankly my dear…I don't give a damn!" He rushed past the soldiers,
pulling Buffy along like a confused child. He knew they had to get out quickly
before the reality of what just took place sank in. Though the Watcher's
Council looked like they had their act together, Ethan knew they'd been
loosing their touch over the past few years. Ever since they'd lost control
over the Slayer. Her absence had caused chaos with the organization; Ethan
Every person they past on the way seem too absorbed in their own panic to
consider stopping the Slayer and sorcerer from leaving. Ethan smiled at
his good fortune, loving the fact his unwelcome job with the Council just
ended abruptly and now he had a date for supper. Once they reached the final
heavily guarded door, Ethan's good fortune ended. Five armed guards blocked
the exit and were questioning every person who stepped up to them.
"Hope you're not opposed to a spot of the dark stuff," he whispered
into Buffy's ear.
"Ethan…don't!" She urged.
"Not going to kill anyone, luv. Just put 'em out for a while." Ethan
tried to dissuade Buffy's worries with an overconfident wink that reminded
her of Giles last taunt. In all the confusion of the crowd, she couldn't
make out the phrase he muttered but it did the trick. Everyone in the room
collapsed to the floor as if suddenly switched off. Ethan smiled at his
accomplishment and took Buffy's hand, glancing into her disapproving eyes.
"You can scold me later. We have to leave now!" He rushed through the
double doors, pulling Buffy with him.
"Where's your car?" Buffy searched for the tackiest hunk of junk she
"Car? Um…no," he pointed to a matte black Ducati Monster 900 i.e. motorcycle.
Buffy couldn't help the surprising grin she felt spread across her lips.
He offered her the matching full-faced helmet and smirked at her appreciation
as he jumped on the bike.
"Sorry to mess up those golden locks, luv."
Buffy was taken back by his gentlemanly behavior. She didn't want to trust
him but had no choice. Regardless of their initial reunion, he was trying
to be helpful. Perhaps Giles escape was just that bad that even Ethan knew
of the dangers ahead?
"Thank you," she mumbled under her breath, not really wanting him to
hear her but insisting on being polite. An armored vehicle skidded up to
the curb and Ethan pulled Buffy closer to him as she fitted the helmet over
"Got to ride. We're getting to much company."
Buffy slid on the back of the bike and had to think for a moment where to
put her hands.
"I know I disgust you but you may want to hold on, my dear." The engine
roared to life.
She smirked at his self-defacing concern and hesitantly placed her hands
on his sides. The bike jerked forward with a burst of speed and Buffy found
her fingers digging into Ethan's ribs. She sighed a bit of relief when she
looked back and saw they had gained distance without anyone following. Ethan
tucked his fingers under her clenched digits, pulling her hand toward his
midsection. Buffy felt a bit of embarrassment as she followed suit with
her other hand; sometimes she forgot her own strength. They weaved in and
out of traffic, Ethan expertly driving the bike through the narrow streets.
A rush of adrenalin tickled down her arms and she felt impressed by Ethan's
skill with the motorcycle.
They rode for twenty minutes and Buffy began to wonder what Ethan meant
when he offered her a pint; this was a quite a distance to go for a beer.
Her mistrust for him was boundless and she knew she should stay alert. The
traffic thinned out as they drove down a country road and Buffy found her
thoughts wandering back to Giles.
She had found it difficult to accept the stories of his actions until she'd
witnessed it for herself. The spectacle of Giles brutal attack on the Council
guards made Buffy realize just how different he'd become.
The memory of Xander's torment sparked in her mind. The gang was watching
one of Xander's favorite horror films, snacking on popcorn and trying to
settle back into routine with Willow's return. He was joking one minute
and the next screaming in agony, pleading for his unseen assailant to stop.
Willow and Buffy tried to hold his arms down, preventing him from hurting
himself as he tore at his clothes. Dawn called 911 but felt helpless at
describing what she was seeing to the dispatcher. Xander looked as if he
was suffering excruciating pain, grasping wildly for a person that wasn't
there. After five minutes, he lay quiet on the floor, trembling with shortened
breaths. He didn't speak for two days after the incident. Finally with Willow's
concerned urging, he admitted he'd seen a glimpse of his attacker, but he
didn't want to believe whom he'd seen. Buffy didn't either.
"I saw h-his face. It c-couldn't be him," Xander stuttered at the recollection.
"Who was it? This might be happening to others and we can only help
if we know who you saw." Willow urged. Xander looked miserably at Buffy
and noticed his hands shaking with fear.
"It was…it was Giles," he choked with tears filling his hurt filled
eyes. "W-Why would he do this. How?"
Buffy stared in shock at her overwhelmed friend.
Willow was speechless with the revelation but recognized how it was done.
She'd dabbled with mental projected before during her battle with Buffy
and remembered Giles discussing it with her in England. The young witch
knew it was possible but only with short distances. Giles would have to
possess unspeakable power to manage such a feat. After a brief discussion,
they all decided to investigate other options. Xander didn't want to accept
what he knew was the truth; Giles had viscously attacked him with dark magic
without any provocation or apparent motive.
Buffy was reminded of the premonition she'd had earlier in the day of the
attack. A flash of Giles smiling face, his eyes black with evil and the
marks of dark magic altering the normally kind face of her Watcher. The
prophetic dreams of that day still haunt her. If only she'd realized the
reality of the situation, she may have been able to prevent it, to prevent
the further deaths of thirteen men and women. They were innocent people
who were murdered while attending the funeral of a fallen comrade. The story
made Buffy sick.
Rumors began to spread in Sunnydale's demon underground that a new 'Big
Bad' was emerging overseas. That's when the nightmares started.
The sun began to creep behind the horizon and the sky filled with an eerie
orange glow. Buffy tried to see what time her watch said but her eyelids
drooped with the longing for rest. Giving in to her exhaustion, Buffy's
head fell forward and she nodded off to sleep with the helmet resting on
Ethan's back. He felt the shift of weight and decided to pull over, no reason
to chance an accident. As the bike came to a full stop, he reached out to
prevent Buffy's limp body from sliding off the back. She woke up with his
hand tucked behind him, cupping her butt; the only part he could reach to
steady her. He never saw the blow that knocked him off the motorcycle.
Buffy took off the helmet and pointed a finger at the stunned man. "Watch
the hands, buddy!" Buffy warned, sliding clumsily off the back of the bike.
Ethan smiled as a trickle of blood pooled in his mouth. "You've upgraded
our relationship to buddies. I'm touched," he stood up and wiped his lip
clean with a finger. "You may not want to believe this princess, but not
every man is lining up to get under your skirt."
Buffy wobbled around a little, trying to get the feeling back in her legs. "You were touching my ass. It's a rule of mine to avoid letting evil sorcerers
touch my ass."
"I was trying to stop you from…oh it doesn't matter." He waved a hand
in defeat, too tired to argue. "Who says I'm evil? Maybe a bit fiendish…a
touch immoral…devious, perhaps. Not evil. Ripper has a monopoly on that
one, now." Once he saw the wounded look in Buffy's eyes, he wanted to take
back his words.
"For what it's worth, I'm sorry," he walked over to her and took the
helmet. "No more driving today. We can sleep under the stars or…um…" he
scanned the area for a suitable spot for an overnight stay, noticing the
limited choice of wooded landscape or open grassy field, "Under the stars
Buffy watched him guide the bike off the main road and down the slight incline
of the shoulder. What had she gotten herself into? Her world was inside
out, backwards from everything she was used to. She had to put all her trust
in a former enemy in order to hunt down a former ally and friend. Buffy
followed slowly behind Ethan. As she felt a tear trickle down her cheek,
she let him gain some space in front of her.
Ethan could sense her unhappiness but knew she didn't want him to see her
cry. She was the all-powerful Slayer and had to keep up appearances. The
sorcerer considered how he'd managed to stumble into this odd situation,
befriending the foe that had defeated him on more than one occasion. 'Bloody
The night air nipped at Buffy's nose and she tucked her face into the collar
of her wool coat. She was grateful she'd dressed warm and comfortable, ready
for action if necessary. A Slayer's duty seemed an endless array of hardships;
at least she could be comfortably dressed for it. A crackling sound caught
her attention and she repositioned herself to face Ethan, watching curiously
as he poked at the meager campfire he'd managed to build.
"Magic again?" She asked, assuming he couldn't possibly have any real
wilderness training. He was too much a city type. "Zippo, actually," he
flipped the top of a silver Zippo lighter and snapped it closed. Buffy wondered
why he had a lighter; she'd never seen him smoke.
"Thank you for getting me out of there. I kinda wigged, didn't I?" Buffy's eyes seemed shameful.
"Wigged? If that means what I think it means then yes…you did," Ethan
sat down across from her, close to the fire. "Can't say I blame you. Seeing
Ripper like that is enough to make anyone a bit radgey." He noticed Buffy
shiver as a slight breeze came across the area. 'Should I continue to be
the gentleman?' Ethan stood up and walked over to the resting motorcycle.
He unzipped the small bag on the gas tank and dug through its contents.
"Do you know how it happened?" Buffy had to have an explanation.
"No, not really but I have my theories. The Council assumes he just
woke up evil one day, I have my doubts." Ethan pulled out a black leather
jacket and walked over to Buffy, offering it to her. "It's not much but
it might help."
"Why are you being so…um…civil?" She let her face fall out from the
protection of her collar and thankfully accepted the jacket.
"Seems to me like we need each other. No use wasting all our dislike
on each other when we have such fun awaiting us with the new and improved
Ripper." He returned to his original spot.
"Won't you be cold?" Buffy didn't want to seem so cold-hearted but
hoped he wouldn't retract his offer.
"Naw…I'm used to sleeping outdoors. Not so close to nature as this
lil' bit of heaven but I've plenty street experience."
"What do you think happened to Giles? When did you know?"
"Magic's a peculiar thing. It has it's own balance of weight and measures,
you see." He smiled, almost chuckling to some unheard inside joke. Buffy
noticed Ethan's eyes twinkle with excitement at the beginning words of his
lesson. "With any action there's an equal reaction or some such nonsense.
Tell me you've heard this, right?" He waited for her response and she nodded.
"Well, magic has a bit of mystery to it. A sense of humor, if you will.
That's why I love it so."
"Chaos," Buffy smirked, knowing he'd appreciate her description.
"Precisely. When you tempt fate with darkness, magic gives you light.
Well, Rupert forgot that lil' snag with his self-sacrificing drama played
out in Sunnydale the night little miss red witch was hell bent on destroying
those naughty nerds." "You lost me." She was curious how Ethan knew about
the dark Willow incident but remembered he was helping the Council. They
must have records of the incident.
Ethan moved a bit closer towards her, eager for her to understand. "Rip…um,
Giles predicted the good natured magicks he borrowed would do the job of
quieting your friend Willow and also expected to sacrifice himself in the
act of saving her."
Buffy nodded, suddenly aware that had Giles died that night, all this recent
death and destruction may not have happened.
"Precisely!" Ethan smiled.
Buffy's eyes filled with confusion and concern, "Precisely what?"
"What you just thought. The whimsical balance of magic had to be upheld.
Giles didn't die therefore a suitable substitution had to exist."
"Hold on a minute…you read my thoughts…my mind?" Buffy suddenly felt
"Um…yes, catch up!" He said it so matter-of-factly Buffy had to replay
the conversation in her mind, seeing if she'd missed something. Ethan's
impatience overtook him, "Yes, I can read your thoughts. Ripper has read
your thoughts and will continue to do so. Trouble is…I can't read his and
I can only read yours while you're close to me."
"I don't think I like this arrangement."
"I gathered that. Can we focus on the task at hand, please?" Ethan
smiled reassuringly. "I'll try not to intrude on your more personal thoughts."
Buffy stood up and threw him the leather jacket. "How far?"
"Pardon?" Ethan knew what she was asking but didn't want to admit his
"How far?" She repeated impatiently.
"About thirty feet," he mumbled.
Buffy quickly estimated the distance and took her new position under a small
tree. "Stay there. I'm a light sleeper. You make any moves and you'll have
a matching black eye for that split lip."
"Sunnydale Charm School at its best." Ethan wrapped the jacket around
him and settled back by the fire. This would make for an interesting adventure
if they both survived.
"Buffy, have you found it yet?" Giles yelled.
"Just about…one more to go." She responded. Finally she found the book
they had been searching for. A small, red, leather bound book with odd etchings
carved into the cover and gold leaf border running around the spine. She
couldn't read the strange print title so she knew it was another job for
her super bookman.
"Got it…I think." She walked into his library office and hopped up
on his desk. "Is this the little critter?"
Giles slipped his glasses back on and nodded contentedly, "Yes, that would
be the one. Thank you. Good work. I think you're getting better at this."
"Don't get your hopes up, Willow's still the queen of research. I'm
just the princess of pain!" Buffy crossed her legs and noticed Giles eyes
glancing at her uncovered legs. "What? Do I have a run?"
"Pardon?" Giles blinked, bringing himself back from the sudden daze
he'd fallen into.
Buffy jumped off the desk and examined her legs. "My nylons…do I have a
run or something?"
"A r-run? Um…no, I don't think I see one. Why?" His face flushed and
she watched him shuffle clumsily around the other side of his desk to exit
"You were looking…um…never mind." She suddenly realized he'd been checking
her out. Her Watcher had ogled her exposed legs. Her Giles. This revelation
quickly followed with another, she wasn't upset. A matter of fact, she was
intrigued. Watching Giles busy himself with other texts spread out on the
main table, Buffy walked up behind him and tapped him on the shoulder. He
whipped around and Buffy gasped as his eyes blackened and web-like veins
distorted his face.
"Miss me, love?"
Buffy jerked awake, sweat pouring down her forehead. It was another nightmare;
she'd thought she'd be growing accustomed to them by now. Taking a few deep-calming
breaths, she looked around to see if Ethan kept his distance. Surprisingly,
he lay in the same spot she last saw him. She went to stand up and felt
something slide off her shoulders to the ground. Glancing down to see what
it was, she smiled as she recognized the item. It was Ethan's leather jacket.