21 True Nature of the Sylph
Buffy didn’t want to get into a discussion about her relationship with Giles so she sidestepped their living arrangements by offering Riley some breakfast; which he gladly accepted. While they ate the scrambled eggs and bacon she prepared. Riley talked about what he had been doing over the last ten months; at least the parts that were declassified. Then Buffy filled him in on the trials she went through with the pregnancy, the emergency delivery and of the many weeks Aria had been in the NICU.
Riley hung his head. “I am so sorry you had to go through all that, alone.”
“I wasn’t alone; Giles was there.” off his look she continued, “As was Xander, Willow, Tara and Anya. They all helped out.”
“I wouldn’t think anything less of them but still, I should have been here. It was actually my intent to make it back before the delivery; you know on family medical leave. But we kept getting assignment after assignment.”
“Yeah, but you are here now.” Buffy blurted. Whoa why’d I say that; he’s gonna get the wrong idea.”
Riley let her words fill him with hope but didn’t want to pressure her. He changed the subject by asking, “How’d you come up with the name Aria; it’s very pretty.”
“What, oh Giles thought of it and it went well with my mom’s as a middle name.”
Riley’s jaw clenched. Giles again had stepped in where I should have been. I guess a father would do that for his unmarried, pregnant daughter but the man isn’t her father. He thought as he forced a smile.
When Buffy smiled back, he reached for her hand.
She pulled her hand back, “It’s too quiet. I need to check on her.”
“So, you found me.” Ethan said as Giles approached the sorcerer.
“I wasn’t sure your technique would work; what with the damage to your tattoo last year.”
“The mark had nothing to do with finding you.” Ethan said smugly.
Ethan leaned in as Giles sat beside him. “I found you by honing in on what we once shared; old friend. And because I opened that pathway it remains open to you. All you needed was a *desire* to see me.”
“I do not DESIRE to see you. If you had been in England I would have made a transatlantic call. I need assistance with a spell we once used.”
“I see and what spell would that be? We shared so many tantalizing incantations.” Ethan waggled his eyebrows.
Willie chose that moment to leave his back office. He saw, he had another customer and moved toward the service side of the bar. “What’ll it…? Hey, I don’t want no trouble.” he recognized the watcher from the descriptions that were tossed around his establishment.
“Then turn around and go back into your office.” Willie was about to protest, “That was not a request.”
Giles’ sea-green eyes bore into the seedy proprietor. Willie did an about face and went back into his office. After closing the door an audible click of the lock was heard.
“Ripper must you. I wanted another drink.”
“Later.” He paused a moment then continued on, “Do you remember the spell you used to simulate strangulation?”
Ethan’s eyes lit with possibilities, “Interesting, what are you planning my dear Ripper?” Giles only glared, “Is it with the delectable red-head? Willow is her name, yes?”
“Better yet, you must be planning a fun evening with your slayer.”
Giles’ glare bore into the other man but Ethan ignored it and persisted. “It can’t be the young man with the dark hair? You said I would be the only...”
The back-fist that connected with Ethan’s jaw appeared to come out of nowhere.
Anya listened patiently while Tara explain, in as much detail, when she first noticed something was ‘different’ about Buffy’s daughter. How every time Aria took in a breath, the baby’s aura would get a dark thread that would twist around the other colors.
Anya took everything Tara said and pondered on what type of demon would bother with an infant. Sure, she had heard of demons possessing children but never an infant. Infants have no ability to do anything on their own; so why bother? Unless… it was to manipulate those who cared for the baby. She took some books from the shelves; handing one to Willow and one to Tara. She instructed them to find a correlation between demons who used children as their instruments and those that effected one’s breathing patterns.
“What will you be doing?” Willow asked.
“Tending the money of course and setting up for the ‘Super Savings Sale’ we’re having next week.” Anya stated as she walked toward the register. “Oh, I’ll also see if I can get in touch with some of my friends; see if they know anything.
Buffy headed into the living room; Riley following behind. She paused at the entrance and scanned the carnage her child had wreaked. Every toy Aria owned was scattered throughout the area; while she sat in her toy box looking through a thick cardboard book. Buffy began to gather the scattered toys. To her surprise Riley chipped in and soon there was a neat pile near where they belonged.
Riley sat on the couch and watched his daughter. He was still amazed that this beautiful, little girl was his. His heart thudded, his mind raced. He needed to call his mother and father. They’d want to meet their newest granddaughter.
Aria glanced from her book toward Riley. She stood in the box then attempted to climb out. Her foot caught on the edge causing her to trip. Riley saw what was about to happen and caught her before she hit the floor. He turned it into a game so as not to frighten her. He made airplane noises while ‘flying her up into the air.
Aria laughed as Riley dipped her toward the floor then brought her quickly up toward the ceiling again.
“Riley I have to go shower; you wouldn’t mind watching her, would you?”
“Of course not.”
“Okay, there’s a diaper bag next to the couch… You do know how to change a diaper, don’t you?”
“Buffy, I got this. Go shower.”
The back fist did nothing to dissuade Ethan’s remarks but one well timed thump to the back of Ethan’s head stopped his continued innuendo and after several demons had entered the bar; Ethan suggested they move to a booth for their private conversation. “This will give you the opportunity to keep watch over the clientele” and place me at a somewhat safe distance from your fists, Ripper.
Once settled in their new location and Giles had allowed Willie to serve them each a malt beverage. “Well, I could tell when it was going to be one of ‘those’ nights early on. I would spend some time placating the Sylph, then ask them if one would be so kind as to assist in a little ‘fun’ with you. One usually agreed, I supposed because they are curious creatures and wanted to experience human life.” Ethan picked up his drink then took a swig of his beer. “I think it was the rush of adrenaline at the moment of climax that they enjoyed.”
“Yes, all well in good. But how did you get it to leave once we were through?”
“The experience was enough for them and they just left. Except,” Ethan paused for a moment then continued, “this one time, I guess; it wanted more?” Giles could see Ethan’s expression changed to one of worry and concern. “Anyway that was the last time I used them in our ‘sessions’.”
“How did you get the damn thing to leave?” Giles began to feel short of breath. He took a deep breath while his right hand came up and rubbed at his chest.
“Ripper, has something happened?” Ethan now concerned for his old lover.
Giles dropped his hand then sat straighter in the booth, “I – Someone was dying. I figured if the sylph could take away air, they could give it. I altered the spell.”
“You altered it, by…?”
“Commanding a Sylph to enter the person and grant them the breath of life.”
“You… Commanded… Do you not understand the very nature of what you have done?”
Giles felt as though he were being lectured by his father. “What?”
“Sylphs are air elementals.”
“I know this.”
“Not only do they bring you a gentle breeze in the summer but they also, on a whim, will decide to turn that gentle breeze into a tornado; they are creatures of chaos, mate.”
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