18 The Sylph Won't Go Quietly
“Well I’m waiting. What do you need an inhaler for?”
Giles pocketed the dispenser; giving the medication time to work its way into his lungs. He indicated for her to take the seat beside him. She moved closer but remained standing. After slowly, letting the breath he was holding out; he answered “It isn’t anything serious.”
Giving him a dubious look she stormed, “Not serious, in our line of work.” She paused a moment then accused, “This is ‘cause you smoke, isn’t it.”
“No, and I quit a year ago.” his voice was barely audible.
She sat beside him, “How long have you been using one of those?” she pointed to the pocket he had placed the inhaler into.
“Buffy,” he took her hand in his, “it is a temporary condition that will be rectified in about two months, three at the most.”
“How do you know? Is it pneumonia … of course not ‘cause you’d be coughing and running a fever and …”
“Buffy, luv,” he ran his hand through her hair in a comforting manner. “The origins are not medical.”
“A spell, you’re under a spell?”
“In a manner of speaking, yes.”
“What manner of speaking? You’ve been compromised and I need to know what did it so I can kill it.”
“I know what caused this and there will be no killing.”
“Willow, did Will…?”
He interrupted her, “It was not Willow. It was me.” Buffy’s brow knitted in confusion. “When I saved Aria I told you there would be a price. Well, I’m paying it now.”
The incident Giles was referring to was one she didn’t want to replay but there was no stopping her mind from rehashing it like a video recording.
Her daughter’s subtle change in color, the green glow from Giles’ hand then Aria’s cries. Later Giles’ explanation of what he did. The being that, even now, resided within her daughter and Giles’ words - Whatever the risks, I’m more than willing to pay the price.
“Do not ‘but Buffy’ me. You’re not all magicked out, Aria is fine; undo what you did.” Her concerned look speaking volumes as she pleaded, “I need you whole.”
Giles could see there would be no arguing with her. “All right, I’ll do it tonight.”
“No you’ll do it now.” Buffy rose from the couch then left the training room; closing the door against Giles’ protestations.
Aria was sitting on Willow’s lap looking through one of the small picture books Giles had bought. Tara was sitting beside them. “W-Willow, Aria’s aura is st-still ‘off’.”
“I don’t understand. With the research I’ve done; I know she is possessed by something. But every time I talk to Giles about it, he brushes me off and says he’ll handle it. Why hasn’t he done anything?
“I-I couldn’t say but … it’s, it’s taken a firmer hold of her. I think we should t-tell Buffy.”
“We can’t she’ll only worry. I’ve found the right incantation; I know I can do this. Use your phone and take a picture of her so I have a more recent one for the ritual and I’ll do it tonight.”
Tara lined up the perfect shot and snapped the image.
“Hey guys, you’re not plastering pictures of my daughter all over the internet are you?” Buffy joked as she approached the two witches.
“No, we just wanted one; you know they grow up so fast.” Willow replied.
“Cool, send me a copy.” Buffy lifted her daughter off Willow’s lap. “Come on little one Giles wants to see you.”
“We’ll see you tomorrow at school.” Willow said as she relinquished her hold of the baby.
“Yeah, bye guys.” Buffy called back over her shoulder.
Buffy returned to the practice room with Aria on her hip. Tentatively she approached the sofa. She had no clue what this reversal may do to her daughter. Her maternal instinct, to protect Aria, was warring with her concern for Giles. She knew Giles wouldn’t do anything to hurt Aria but magick was so unpredictable. Eventually she placed the child on the couch, next to him. “Do your thing ‘Magic Man’.”
Glancing from Buffy to Aria, Giles sighed, resigned to the task Buffy set before him. He set his left hand upon Aria’s chest. Aria, not understanding what he was doing, squirmed. “Guy-gulls,” she placed her little hand to his chest.
“Yes little one, now settle down.”
Try as he might Aria just wouldn’t sit still long enough for him to focus on what he needed to do. “Buffy, I think it best if I wait until she is asleep. Trying to do this now may not yield the results we want?”
Buffy watched her daughter crawl onto Giles’ lap. She had to agreed with him, after all he was the one who knew about magick and how it should be done. Sitting in the spot Aria had vacated; Buffy watched the interaction between the two.
Aria leaned her head against Giles’ chest and inserted her right thumb into her mouth. He smoothed the hair on her head, cradling her close then he pull the digit from her mouth but she popped it back in when he released her hand.
“Aria sweetie there are tiny germs that…” he began.
Buffy stopped his lecture on the cleanliness of thumbs, “Giles, just leave her be. She’s tired. Let’s go home, have dinner then put her to bed early.” Giles agreed and the three left the shop. Giles locking up behind him.
Later that night, after Aria was down for the night, Giles entered the nursery. He watched the small rise and fall of her chest and listened to the soft snores.
Why can’t Buffy wait? Just two more months that’s all; to give Aria a better chance. Though in all honesty he really did not want to undo what he had done. He didn’t want to subject this precious child to anything that may jeopardize her health. I could tell Buffy it was done? No, Willow’s friend, Tara knows something is amiss. Plus lying is never a good thing in any relationship.
As Giles continued his internal debate; across town Willow was preparing to cast her spell.
“I-I’m still not comfortable with this, Willow.” Tara’s hesitant speech, spoke volumes to the red head.
“I know but what if this thing really starts to take over. How devastated would Buffy be if she had to slay her own daughter?”
“I guess.” Tara stated as she handed Willow a print of the picture she had taken of Aria.
Giles placed his left hand upon Aria’s chest and exhaled. He cleared his mind of all outside interruptions to prepare himself for the spell of exorcism. He began by thanking the being for its assistance in keeping the child well. He offered his assistance, to the Sylph, in guiding it back to the realm of the air where it could roam freely once again.
Through his magicks Giles felt the being fight; at first. But after he forced his will a little harder it began to course through Aria. Everything was progressing well until; Giles felt something a kin to a power surge. Aria’s breathing became erratic and there was a raspy sound upon each intake of breath. He sensed the Sylph pulled back, away from his leading edge of magick. He attempted to wrap the Sylph in his magick to prevent it from receding. Aria’s gasps became more ragged. Giles pulled his hand off of Aria breaking the connection. She continued to struggle for breath for a few seconds more then they began to even out. He couldn’t understand what had happened. After assuring Aria was all right he left the room; hesitant to tell Buffy he had failed.