Buffy slid into the driver's side of the SUV. The car still
smelled of Giles' cologne. She clamped her lips into a straight
line, working even harder to hold them there when her eyes
lighted on the leather jacket thrown on the passenger's seat.
She picked it up with a shaking hand and stared at it bleakly
for a long moment. Then she hugged it possessively to herself
before burying her face in it and letting the frustration
She'd searched all over Whispering Pines; every lane, every
deserted building, the railhead, anywhere it looked like some
badness, demon or human, might be holding Giles. She knew
in her gut that he wasn't just lying somewhere with a twisted
ankle. She could feel it all the way through her Slayer senses
to the pit of her stomach. Not to mention if he was, she'd
have found him by now. Heedless of the strange looks she got
from passers-by, she'd flown all over the small town at breakneck
Slayer speed, starting with the hospital and culminating in
a street-by-street search. It was still too early for most
vamps to be out, and the Moss Nymph she'd caught at the railhead
had quailed and shrugged and chittered away with no sign of
understanding a word she'd said.
With a jagged sigh, she finally looked up. It was starting
to get really dark. She frowned. Giles' cell phone lay on
the passenger seat, the battery dead. She swallowed more tears,
her mind wandering, exploring the possibility that Giles might
have been taken... again. She paled.
'Last time Giles was taken...'
She didn't want to remember. Last time she'd taken so long
to get to him that he could easily have been killed, and from
the hints Xander not-so-subtly dropped, Angelus had really
done a job on him while he was waiting for her to finally
get around to rescuing him. As she turned, her expression
hardened, though her eyes were glistening with unshed tears.
She froze when her cell phone began to ring.
The voice squeaked with excitement. "Buffy... I did
the spell. He's at 122 Brent Street... and I think he's locked
in a small room."
She scrambled out of the car and took off at a dead run.
She was there within minutes.
It was a large, unassuming family house. The security lights
were on, there were no cars in the driveway, the grass was
cut and it had a nice garden. Buffy climbed the side gate
without hesitation. A bicycle and a soccer ball were lying
on the lawn, and there was a vegetable patch along one fence.
She dialled Willow as she cautiously prowled the back yard.
"Okay, I'm here. Do I need to break in?"
"I-I don't think so. Near as I can tell he's about oh,
maybe thirty feet from the house."
Buffy looked ahead. The only thing in front of her, apart
from trees, in the painfully normal suburban backyard, was
what looked like a child's playhouse. She crept up to it.
The only sign of life was a light flickering inside. It wasn't
locked, so she crashed dramatically through the small door.
When the barking and the shrieking subsided, a horizontal
Buffy grabbed hold of the huge head dragging its equally huge
tongue across her face and turned to the little girl, who
was staring, wide-eyed, at her from her sleeping bag, flashlight
clutched in her small fingers.
"Sorry," she said, elbowing the huge St Bernard
yet again, but not making an ounce of difference to its position
as it pinned her to the floor and casually slathered her neck
with drool. "I was looking for a man. Have you seen a
nice man... a big man with glasses?"
The child shook her head.
Buffy finally used Slayer strength to heave the dog's massive
weight off and got to her feet, though stooped. "My friend
told me that he was here, and she's always right," she
explained, crossing her fingers for the fib. "Are you
sure you haven't seen anyone, maybe visiting mommy and Daddy?
His name is Giles..."
The dog woofed at astonishing volume, and Buffy stared as
the little girl pointed the flashlight straight at the huge,
Giles watched Drusilla re-apply her make-up in the wall-mounted
mirror as though she could actually see her absent reflection.
He was still trembling from the 'fun' she'd had directing
her demon lap dogs to remind him of the 'lovely' time he had
playing with 'Daddy'.
After two fingers had snapped with almost no sound from him,
she'd grown bored, thankfully. The woman was still absolutely
barking, however. Utterly loony, in fact, and therefore with
no clue that most of the pleasure to be gained from torture...
at least by those of a truly sadistic nature... came from
actually administering it rather than simply being a spectator.
As he clenched his teeth against the sickening pain of the
fresh breaks, he gave silent thanks that she'd gleefully chosen
his right hand to wreak the most damage on, unaware of course,
that it meant his more useful left one remained intact...
for now. He didn't know how long the lull would last. One
henchman had been dispatched to find some poor, unsuspecting
soul to provide Drusilla with a late snack, and the other
was snoring softly, curled up on the bed like a huge mastiff.
From his own position, tied roughly and painfully by one
of the demons to a cheap, uncomfortable plastic chair, he
conceded that the situation was currently about as good as
he could hope for.
"What do you think?" she asked when she finally
He lifted his head and fixed her gaze with his own, but didn't
speak. She didn't look any different to him.
"You don't like it?" She pouted. "But I made
myself beautiful just for you. Spike loved it when we played
dress-up. He used to bring me such pretty dresses... he was
so sweet, my Spike." She dragged a finger through the
powder coating on her cheek and held it out to Giles. "Now
he's just... dust... All gone... just like Grandmummy."
Her cheeks suffused with colour. "And she did it! It's
her fault. She took lovely Angelus and she took Spike. It
was her fault when Daddy killed Darla. It's all her fault.
Everything that's happened... she made it happen... all of
Giles sighed. "Buffy didn't ask Angel to care for her,
or to stake Darla, any more than she asked Spike to become
obsessed with her," he said in a strained voice. "They
were both stalking her long before she ever looked their way."
She smiled bitterly. "It was always her. I could smell
her in his voice. I could hear her in his skin. He was never
going to kill her... he thought he was, but he wasn't. He
thought he loved me... but when he saw her..."
She moved close enough for him to smell the cheap perfume
she'd put behind her ears, the same one she was wearing when...
"And you, Watcher. You still love her."
Giles closed his eyes, Jenny's image floating in his mind's
eye. "I will always care for her," he whispered.
"Ah," she smiled, wagging a finger as though he'd
given a wrong answer to a test. "But the past fades,
and tomorrow remembers yesterday. She doesn't have a clue,
you know. It's like blind man's buff..." She clapped
her hands with glee. "Blind man's Buffy. How clever of
me!" Her glee swiftly became another pout. "Spike
would tell me how clever I am."
"Brilliant," Giles obliged, preferring to keep
her preoccupied. "Bloody brilliant." He just wished
he knew what it all meant. Somewhere in there lay the kernels
of the visions penetrating the veil of that truly insane mind...
but how to separate the grain from the chaff? 'Lord, he
needed to go to the bathroom... right after the painkillers
and the very large Scotch...'
He sighed. Based on previous experience he was going to be
there for quite some time before Buffy got around to finding
him... if indeed they even realised he was missing, meaning
none of the above was likely to happen any time soon.
Drusilla bubbled again at the 'brilliant' comment and came
over to drape her arms around his neck.
"You smell nice," she observed, nuzzling his throat.
"Like last time. When you were such fun." She pulled
back to touch his lips. "Are they still like velvet...
all yummy and hungry?"
He made a distressed noise and pulled back, revolted, not
wanting to be reminded any further of what had happened the
last time he was in her thrall.
"I'm not that man any more," he growled, painfully
aware that 'that man' was hiding deep down inside him right
now, trembling with unwelcome déjà vu.
"That's all right," she told him, stroking his
hair around the top of his right ear. "I like this one
just fine." She put a hand on his head, and after a beat
gasped loudly, before struggling to catch her breath. She
let go, moisture glittering in her eyes, but only for a moment.
Then the predatory smile was back and she took his face in
both her hands, not allowing him to look away.
"Be in me..." She commanded.
"The dog's name was 'Giles', Willow.
Your spell went kablooey," Buffy pointed out once again,
with increasingly less patience.
Willow's bleak face folded into a scowl of consternation.
"But... but... I told you: I did everything perfectly...
I swear. And the ingredients came from the Coven. Everything
"Then what happened?" Buffy demanded harshly. "We
have to find him. We don't have time to chase dogs all over
"W-we'll find him, Buffy," Xander interceded. "If
Will says she didn't make a mistake, maybe she didn't. Maybe
something else made it go wrong. It's not like it hasn't happened
Willow winced, even though she knew Xander was only trying
to help. Most of her previous kablooies were indeed her own
fault, but not this one. She knew it. She just didn't know
what could have caused it to go wrong.
"I'm gonna do it again. It can't go wrong twice. It's
an easy spell, and I still have plenty of ingredients left.
I want to find Giles too."
"Can't you go any faster?"
"We'll find him," Xander said gently, glancing
over to see her biting her bottom lip. Buffy quietly linked
her fingers through the reassuring hand he offered, but continued
to stare resolutely ahead.
After a short but charged silence, she finally spoke.
"Like I found him last time...?"
When they reached the building Willow's spell had indicated,
Xander swore at the bumper-to-bumper parked cars, and parked
in front of a hydrant. They tore inside and flew up the stairs.
Halfway down the hall, Buffy kicked in a door and they found
themselves scrambling to a halt in a dentist's office.
A grey-haired woman, sitting at the reception desk, stopped
typing and regarded them with surprising equanimity.
"Where's Giles?" Xander demanded as Buffy surged
toward the office door.
"We're closed. Doctor Giles is doing inventory,"
she told them. "Is this an emergency?"
"Doctor Giles?" Xander demanded. The elderly
woman pointed to the diploma on the wall. 'Doctor Edison Galloway
Giles,' he read. He didn't bother with all the letters after
the name or the dates of graduation.
"Ah, Buffy..." he managed in a strangled voice.
"No!" Willow burst into tears of frustration when
Xander and Buffy returned empty handed. They were all beginning
to feel the strain of Giles' disappearance. Dawn wouldn't
come out of her room, and Willow had been beset by regrets
and recollections of every single thing she hadn't said to
Giles and wanted to, everything she hadn't done since their
big clash and needed to. She'd been prepared to fix all that
when he walked in the door with them. "What happened?"
"You sent us to rescue the town dentist," Xander
said irritably, then held up a red lollypop.
"Fortunately, he had a sense of humor when we told him
we saw the lights and thought he was being robbed," Buffy
added, her voice flat despite the strain in her eyes.
"I don't understand," Willow wailed. "I checked
everything... all of it... one thing at a time. I called Jo
about the ingredients and checked them off with her. She should
be here soon."
Buffy's head came up. "Here?" she said sharply.
"Sure," Willow confirmed. "She's scared too.
She wants to help."
"Fine." The tone was equally as sharp. "Just
keep her out of my way. I have to find him, Willow. If magick's
not going to do it, there has to be another way." She
dragged a hand through her hair. "Why him? Why did it
have to be him? I thought we were safe here. I thought this
wasn't going to happen here..."
Drusilla played with her long, red fingernails. She'd worn
out the pretty Watcher playing games with him, and he was
now 'asleep' in the chair, a new bruise across his temple,
his shirt open and his hair askew.
She giggled softly to herself, heedless of the blood on his
hands from the rope burns, or the smell of the newish burns
on his chest from a cigarette especially chosen because it
was Spike's favoured brand. At first it had been fun. He could
still kiss... maybe even better than last time. She laughed
again. Of course better than last time. It was delicious.
Lovely and yummy and so very delicious... but then that
was because it belonged to her...
"Nok, wake him!" she demanded. The big,
quilled demon standing at her shoulder shuffled over and poked
the Watcher. No response.
"Is he broken?" she asked plaintively.
It poked him again. "Warm," it grunted.
"Yes, but I want him to wake up. This isn't much fun."
Even the big demon knew not to get in the way of his Mistress's
fun. It batted the side of Giles' head, but apart from almost
knocking it off, he didn't elicit a response.
"He is broken!" she exclaimed, stamping her foot.
"Fix him! Fix him now! "
The Hakkoth demon was a simple creature. Breaking things...
killing things... it was good at those. Fixing things was
not a concept it was on speaking terms with. Still, it also
knew that an enraged Drusilla was not a good thing.
Nok shuffled across to the bathroom. There was silence for
a moment, then rattling; then ripping... then water running.
He emerged moments later with a plastic shower curtain clutched
like a bag and filled with a couple of gallons of water.
Drusilla roared with childish laughter as her minion upended
the whole lot over the limp figure. She laughed even more
as Giles sat bolt up right, gasping with shock, cold and pain.
"Clever baby. You fixed him for me," she crooned,
clapping her hands again.
Nok looked more relieved than pleased.
Giles glared at her through wet strands of hair and a haze
of rage and fear.
"There you are. I thought you were never going to wake
His eyes narrowed as memories filtered back. It was difficult,
however, to separate reality from the concussion-induced blur.
Flashes of excruciating pain, the smell of scorching flesh
and the sound of manic laughter seemed to be punctuated by
fleeting phantoms with Buffy's face and Buffy's eyes. Memories
of Jenny hovered somewhere just beyond his thoughts, and the
smell of Drusilla's cheap perfume seemed to permeate all of
it, as did the agony of his fingers and chest, the relentless
ache of his arms, and the numbness of his motionless legs.
"What do you want from me?" he demanded wearily,
his voice rasping and weak. He was trembling from the lingering
effects of the fresh burns combined with the nauseating pain
of his broken fingers, but his spirit was undiminished.
"Diamonds and pearls and a kiss to make it all better?"
She shook her head. "It's not you I want, Watcher."
Her tone was harsh, and her eyes flashed with rare clarity.
Then she turned to the Hakkoth again. "Where's that naughty
Olgen with my dinner?"
Nok shrugged helplessly, hoping he wasn't going to find himself
somewhere unpleasant again. Drusilla had a nasty habit of
easily enthralling them when she was annoyed and suggesting
that they do things that were very painful or unpleasant,
which, being enthralled, they duly did. Last time he'd found
himself upside-down in a trash compactor just about to be
lifted and tipped into a garbage truck, where he would have
been squished to the size of a breadbox if he hadn't scrambled
out as fast as he did.
"But I'm hungry," she pouted, eyeing Giles' neck
covetously. "And I'm bored."
Giles watched her play with her hair and then look up in
a manic sort of way, smiling like a naughty three year old.
"We'll just have to find some more games to play while
The Watcher's heart sank. He whispered a vivid expletive
under his breath before resuming his efforts to loosen his
bonds, ignoring the feel of the fresh blood, warm and sticky,