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FIC: Path - (Part 1 of 4) (Story Two in the "The Chosen One" Series)

Title: Path
Author: chevron17
Pairing: Giles and Buffy friendship and hurt/comfort.
Other Characters: Miscellaneous Vampires and Demons, Members of the Devon Coven.
Rating: PG for TV series-level vampire/demon-type violence and injury.
Text/Font Conventions: Italics represent unvoiced thoughts, emphasis, ancient text or foreign language, based on context.
Length: Approximately 11,000 Words, or 33 pages in 12PT Veranda, total across all 4 parts.
Timeframe: Total AU, Loosely based on concepts/atmospherics from the Wish!Verse, including Tough!Cookie!Buffy.  The Watcher's Council is sort of a monastic society, and the atmosphere is a bit post-apocalyptic medieval-ish, with very limited technology and an agrarian lifestyle.
Summary: Rupert puts his life on the line for Buffy, and their relationship is about to change. “Path” is the second in a series begun for SOG 2012 with “The Chosen One.” While you don’t have to have read that story to understand this one, a quick hop over to at least take in the headers and “chronicles” section from that story would probably be helpful.
See here.
Disclaimer: Buffyverse and characters property of Joss Whedon, et al. This is a not-for-profit amateur work done with respect and intent of preserving and extending interest in the wonderful world of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Warnings: A Watcher was harmed in the writing of this fic. But he gets better. Happy ending prevails, as always with me.



The Chronicles record many of the adventures of the Great Slayer, Buffy Summers, and her faithful Watcher and True Companion, Rupert Giles, during their first year together. In the past, it had been the job of the Slayer to slay, and of the Watcher to watch, but in these dire times, with the odds so very much against them, the Watcher was found frequently in the role of fighter alongside his Slayer. Fortunately, Rupert Giles was a man well-skilled in the arts of combat in addition to the more scholarly arts of his Calling.

But a human man is not meant to go up against powerful demons one to one, no matter how great his skill, and the blood of Rupert Giles was shed freely that first year. Though his suffering was great, he never shied from stalwart defense of his Slayer in battle, as she honed her craft under his instruction.

Buffy heaved herself to a sitting position, shaking her head to clear it. The blow from the huge, multi-tentacled Qujarka demon had stunned her, knocking her to the ground. The last thing she remembered was the beast hovering over her, poised to strike a fatal blow. Then had come a hoarse shout, a glint of steel, a disgusting glurching sound simultaneous to an unholy roar, and finally, a thud.

She glanced up and saw Rupert standing about five paces from her. His sword arm hung motionless at his side, and his sword slowly dripped purple-orange slime. The Qujarka lay motionless at his feet.

“Buffy?” Rupert asked, “You're all right?” His voice was strained, his posture awkward, and his breathing labored.

“Yeah,” she replied, hopping quickly to her feet and dusting herself off, not yet noticing her Watcher's distress. “I can't believe that thing got around my guard.”

“Dropped . . . you . . . dropped your shoulder . . . again," Rupert answered, the weakness and stress in his voice now unavoidably evident. Buffy's head snapped up and she looked at him, just in time to see him stagger drunkenly, struggling to remain on his feet.    As his sword slipped from his hand, Buffy leaped forward to catch her Watcher beneath his arms, easing him to his knees against her on the ground.

She felt a sticky wetness where her hand rested against the back of his left shoulder.

Buffy shifted Rupert slightly in her arms so she could peer over his shoulder. She saw a sharp stripe of red running across his back from the top of his right shoulder to beneath his left. He'd been struck by one of the Qujarka's tentacles, and it had cut right though his leather coat and cloth shirt. She knew her Watcher well enough by now to know if he'd only suffered the cut, he wouldn't be kneeling weakly against her.

“Rupert?” she asked, her voice filling with worry.

“Poison,” he replied to her unvoiced question. “You're immune . . . I . . . I'm not . . .”

Rupert’s eyes started to drift closed and his head sagged toward Buffy’s shoulder. Buffy tried to rouse him. "Rupert, it is so not nap time now. Now is tell Buffy what to do for you time!"

Rupert struggled to find his voice, fighting the effects of the potent toxin quickly overwhelming his body’s defenses. "Your knife . . .," he began, struggling to speak between his erratic breaths. " . . . scrape away the . . . poison sacs . . . use the knife . . . not your hand . . .”

The apparent direness of her Watcher's condition galvanized Buffy to action. She quickly lowered Rupert to the ground, belly down, and slid his travel satchel between his face and the chill, damp ground.    Grabbing hold of the cut edges of his jacket and shirt, she tugged them apart enough to see his wound clearly. Several small dark grayish spines with puffy ends were imbedded in the cut in his back. Sliding her knife from her boot, she scraped quickly and firmly, dislodging the spines and flicking them away. Her stomach clenched as Rupert struggled to stifle his yelps of pain as each spine was removed.

“Okay - spine thingys are gone - what now?” Buffy urged. Much as she hated to do it, she had to shake him again. "Rupert, what next?"

Rupert's voice was fainter now. "White flowers . . . at the stream . . . seed pods . . ."

Buffy looked up, spotting the plants in question even in the darkness, aided by her Slayer-enhanced low-light vision. They had been walking along the stream earlier in the day, on their way to a new village.

"Seed pods, okay, great. What else? Rupert! What about the seed pods?"

"In the wound . . . absorb poison . . . make a paste . . . press in hard . . . " Rupert convulsed in a full-body shudder, gritting his teeth as the pain washed through him.

"A paste - you mean with water?"

"Yeesss . . ." Rupert hissed as he struggled to control the searing pain by managing his breathing.

"Okay. I can do that."

“Buffy . . . ?"

“What?”

“Won't be conscious . . . much longer . . . be very ill . . . few days . . . maybe more . . . pro'ly won't die . . . try . . . make me drink . . . seed pod 'n water . . . helps . . ."

“Okay, after paste, it's seed pod tea, got it. I should’ve known tea would be involved."

“Can't move . . . poison spreads . . . death then . . .”

“Okay, no moving the Watcher, got that too. Anything else before I grab those flowers?”

Rupert shook his head faintly in the negative, and Buffy squeezed his shoulder gently, careful to put no pressure on his wound.

“Okay - Be right back.”

Buffy made the round trip to the stream in a matter of minutes, bringing two clean-washed river stones with her along with a large bunch of the flowers. Back at Rupert’s side, she removed the pods. crushed them between the stones, and mixed them together a bit of water in Rupert’s drinking cup.

“Rupert? You still with me?” she asked.

“Here,” he replied weakly.

“I'm ready to, uh, put this stuff on you.”

“Good . . . pack it in . . . much as you can.”

Buffy scooped up some of the crushed seed mixture and gently pressed it into Rupert's wound. Buffy jumped as he barely stifled a howl of pain, his fingers digging into the grass beneath his hands.

“You sure this . . .”

“Yes . . . God, Buffy . . . please, yes, aaahhh . . . just . . . just get it done.” His voice clearly reflected the agony of the process.

“Yes, okay . . . doing . . .” Buffy finished packing the seed mixture into Rupert's wound as quickly as she could. Rupert's body was rigid with the pain, and he was breathing in short, rapid pants. After a few minutes he began to slowly relax again as the initial burning sensation of the anti-toxin began to diminish. Buffy crushed some more pods and mixed them with water in Rupert's drinking cup.

“Tell me when you think you can drink some of this,” she asked.

“Sooner . . . the better,” he replied.

“I'm gonna have to turn you just slightly so you can drink.”

“Understood."

Buffy gently rolled Rupert partly onto his left side and lifted his head slightly, holding his cup to his mouth. He gagged awkwardly at the first taste of the bitter liquid, spraying his Slayer and dribbling down himself.

“Sorry,” he mumbled miserably.

“Well, I think I still owe you a few vomit sessions if we’re counting, so don't worry about it. Try again?”

He nodded. This time, he was able to get the entire cup of liquid down, albeit with the most amazing grimace Buffy had ever seen on his face. When he was done, she lowered him down to rest on the ground once again.

“So, how often do I get to do that to you?” Buffy asked.

When Rupert didn't answer, she prompted again. “Rupert? Come on, that was a joke – how often should I do this?” She looked down and saw his eyes were open, but glassy, and the fingers of his right hand were still pulling at the grass beneath them. A sudden bad feeling washed over her.

“Rupert, do you know?”

“I know,” he replied. “. . . answer's not good . . . not enough time.”

“Wait a minute – you said if I kept you still, treated the wound and made you drink that godawful stuff you'd be okay in a few days.”

“Don't have a few. My blood . . . it will bring them. Word gets 'round - Watcher's down, Slayer's with him. They'll come . . . the demons . . . too many . . . too good an opportunity . . . you're going to have to leave . . .”

“Stop - don't even go there."

"No choice . . . if too many . . .”

“I'm not leaving you.”

“Just . . . don't let them turn me . . . I know too much of use to them . . . Too much about you . . . Use crossbow . . . from safe distance . . ."

"I thought you just said there'll be too many."

"Only need . . . one bolt . . ."

Buffy's stomach turned as she realized what he was asking her. "Oh, no - no way,” she declared, “not a chance."

"Not fair . . . to ask of you . . . I know . . . but worse . . . to face me as demon . . . If I thought I . . . could remain conscious . . . I would rely on . . . my knife . . . "

"Stop it, will you! Just stop it! There's not gonna be any crossbows and there's not gonna be any knives! They won't turn you because I’m not letting them get their grubby little vampire hands on you. You got that through your overly noble head yet?”

Rupert struggled to turn his head fully to Buffy, unfortunately, his pain didn’t allow him to fully fix her in his usual glare of disapproval. “I am . . . your Watcher . . .,” Rupert growled, trying to muster some authority to his voice despite his compromised state, “. . . and I order you . . . Do not . . . die . . . for me . . .”

“I'm not planning on dying, Rupert. And as to the ordering bit . . . well, we both know how well that works with me. So just give it up. Now . . .”

“Beg you then . . . pls . . . know what m'askn . . . "

"Not happening."

"Not your fault . . ."

"Not happening . . . You made your choice to step between me and that Cutejerky, now I'm making mine."

"Qujarka."

"Whatever."

"Buffy . . ."

"Rupert."

“Sacred duty . . .,” Rupert pleaded, reaching up to grab at her sleeve with his right hand. “You – are – needed .  .”

“So are you,” Buffy replied softly, her eyes locked with his, her quiet words reaching him more deeply than her insistent ones.

The fight left him. Rupert brushed his thumb once along her forearm where he gripped her sleeve. “Thank you,” he whispered, his eyes drifting closed. “You dont haf' to . . . dont . . . want you to risk . . . for me . . ." Rupert’s hand slipped downward and Buffy caught it and laid it gently back on the ground.

"I know . . . Now, as your Slayer, I'm telling you what you're going to do. You’re going to be my big tough Watcher and you're going to hang in there, 'cause I don't plan on continuing this slaying job by myself. So if you don’t want the world to go down into a demonic cesspool of evil, you better plan on staying alive. I don't know how much time we have, but I plan to use every second of it. Some smart guy I know taught me to be aware of all my resources and gather them all together for the fight. Maybe you'll get better faster than you think. Maybe they won't come till you're better. But I will not kill you and I will not let you kill yourself. And if you somehow manage to die anyway, I will find a way to bring you back so I can kill you again, are we clear, Watcher?"

When there was no reply, Buffy gave Rupert a gentle shake, finding him fully unconscious at last.

"Great," Buffy blustered with an exaggerated sigh. "First big noble speech of my slaying career, and my Watcher sleeps through it."

**************************************

(On to Part 2)

Tags: fic type: gen, fic type: het, fic type: multi-part, giles & buffy, giles/buffy, rating: pg/frt, z_creator: chevron17
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