Rating: Overall R/ This chapter PG
Setting: Seven months after YellowBrickRoad (it's not a direct sequel, but there are a few mentions of what happened)
Word Count: 1938
Disclaimer: I own nothing
Summary: After the events on YellowBrickRoad, Giles finds himself in the middle of a strange prophecy.
Author's Note: It's that time again for your weekly horror fic! That's right, folks, I'm back. And fear not, I have this bad boy planned to be finished by the last day of SoG. And I also plan to have chapter 2 up later tonight. Hope you guys enjoy!
Sleep had been elusive. Not for the first time, but it had started to become more frequent in the last month. Nightmares and long ignored memories had started up again any time Giles had managed to fall asleep. Of course he would never tell Buffy that; she worried enough about him as it was, he didn’t want to add to it.
He had waited until the sun had just started to rise to go for a run, leaving a note for his Slayer in case she woke up before he was back. A smile came to him as he thought back to their ordeal at YellowBrickRoad. Buffy had been right, there had been a good thing that came from it.
In the seven months since their weekend on that trail, there had been more good moments than he had originally thought there would be. Willow had woken up and, miraculously, suffered minimal damage; it had been an adjustment, but Willow’s ability to control her magic had been slightly hindered, as well as her ability to learn new things- although it just took her a little longer to learn things. It was another two weeks before Willow was discharged from the hospital.
Xander, however, had been another story. It had been a whole month before he was allowed to leave, with therapy sessions twice a week. He had moments when he remembered exactly what he had done, but most of the time he remembered it as someone else attacking his friends. And had it not been for Giles, Buffy, and Willow telling authorities that the attack had been the result of a nervous breakdown, there was no doubt that Xander would have been thrown in jail.
Everyone had been cautious around Xander and Giles, not wanting to set either one of them off into an “episode”. And there had been plenty of those without any of their friends’ help. There had been many times when paranoia had washed over Giles, or when Xander had been set off by a memory and gotten violent. No one held it against them though, and as time went on the “episodes” had gotten less frequent and easier to come down from.
The only other noticeable change was how in tuned Xander seemed to be with the spiritual world, not that he was too thrilled about it. However, his newfound talent had come in handy a few times, but Xander mostly just tried to ignore it. If it weren’t for the fact that Giles was still afraid to be alone with his friend, he would offer some sort of help. So Willow had stepped up and told Xander that she would work with him, but only if he wanted.
Giles had been so caught up in his thoughts that he hadn’t seen the other jogger until he collided with him. He quickly reached out to keep both of them balanced, a nervous smile on his face.
“I’m so sorry. I wasn’t…” he trailed off when the stranger looked at him, reaching out to touch the still healing cut above his left eye.
“It’s begun.” The jogger said, almost giddy. “The son has turned on the Chosen.”
“I’m sorry?” Giles took a step back, his body getting ready for a fight.
Instead of answering, the jogger took a step closer and brought his hand up to rest on Giles’ cheek.
“You will bring forth the new world. The son has attacked you,” the jogger’s hand dropped and he just stared at Giles, grinning from ear to ear. “The prophecy will be fulfilled, and we will follow you.”
Giles narrowed his eyes as he looked at the man, not sure what to say or why he was still listening. He shook his head when the stranger went on again about “the son”.
“You have me mistaken for someone else.” He said before he found the ability to move again.
He pushed pass the jogger and started running again, wanting to put as much distance between them as he could. He racked his brain for some sort of idea as to what the man had been talking about; but of all the prophecies he knew of, nothing came to mind at the man’s words. The only thing that reflected something of what he had just been told was the other day when Xander had attacked him during an episode. It hadn’t lasted long, but it had been enough to cause the younger man to cut the Watcher with a broken piece of glass.
Giles stopped at the end of the trail, trying to catch his breath. He shook his head in an effort to shake off the stranger’s words. Surely there was no true meaning behind them. Although, it wouldn’t hurt to look into it; of course he had no idea what he was even looking into. He leaned against a nearby tree and took a deep breath as he felt a wave of nausea hit him. The deep breaths continued until the wave had passed, something he had always chalked up to pushing him too hard on his runs. However, a few more minutes against the tree wouldn’t hurt him. He just needed to get a grip on himself.
The watcher looked around to make sure no one was around before he slowly sat on the ground, leaning back against the trunk as he closed his eyes.
His eyes opened at the sound of the door, his jaw clenching when he heard footsteps.
“The gig’s over.” He stated coldly over his shoulder, not even about to allow the latecomer a look at him.
“Oh, I know. I heard you from outside,”
He turned around to find Thomas standing in the doorway. He had to be honest; of all the people he expected to find him it hadn’t been Thomas. Ripper looked him over and noticed that the young man seemed to have cleaned up somewhat in the half year since he had left everyone. He rolled his eyes and continued doing some last minute cleanup. In exchange for letting his band perform, he had told the club’s owner that he’d do the closing cleanup.
“You can’t be so surprised I found you,” Thomas said as he took a few steps inside. “It isn’t exactly like you’re hiding. You’re doing gigs at the same place we went to, for Christ’s sake!”
“Why are you here, Tom? Did Ethan send you?”
“No. Ethan’s gone a bit…he’s gone in a different direction.”
Ripper turned around and looked at his friend.
“Is he okay?” he asked, concern in his voice.
“I don’t know, but I’m not here to talk about him. I came to talk about you,” Thomas said, not letting him get another word in. “You need to stop pretending, mate.”
He narrowed his eyes as he looked at him, not entirely sure what Thomas was talking about. His confusion must have shown because the other man gave a scoffed and shook his head.
“You always were arrogant, Ripper. You want to drag people into the darkness that is your life, but then turn around and play innocent when things turn to shit.”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about, Tom.”
“I’m talking about Randall. I’m talking about how you introduced that bloody demon in our lives, and then just stood by while it blew up in our faces.”
Ripper took a small step back, completely surprised by the accusation. He swallowed and squared his shoulders slightly. He wasn’t about to be given the blame for Randall’s death.
“If anyone’s to blame for what happened, it’s Ethan. He’s the one who introduced Eyghon to you, not me.”
“Oh, please! You showed Ethan knowing full well he’d show us. You both wanted to find a better high, but you wanted none of the blame if things went bad. But let me tell you, Rupert, I know that game and I’m not playing it.” Thomas said as he walked closer. “You knew the signs long before Randall died, but you didn’t do anything.”
“I had no idea…”
“Yes, you did! You knew Eyghon favored you; he wasn’t exactly shy about it. You and Ethan were his favorites, but you…you were the one he compared all us to.” Thomas snarled as he got into Ripper’s face. “He had plans for you, Rip. That’s why you could go longer, had more control…and Randall…you knew Randall wanted to be like you. Hell, we all did, but Randall more than us.”
Ripper clenched his jaw and stared at his friend.
“We all let Randall go under when he shouldn’t have.” He said coldly, forcing himself to remain calm. “He hadn’t recovered from the night before, but we still let him…”
“You hadn’t recovered either! You were still fucked up when you went under that night!” Thomas snapped as he shoved Ripper into the table behind him. “But you were the one who pushed Randall to go under when he didn’t want to. And you need to start taking responsibility for killing our friend!”
Ripper tensed and prepared for a fight, quickly noticing the sudden change in Thomas. He was staring a point over his shoulder, a small expression of confusion and fear on his face. Ripper turned and looked around, quickly turning back when he saw nothing. He was getting ready to laugh at Thomas’ failed distraction when he noticed the other man already halfway to the door.
“You’re not a good man, Rip. No matter how you try.” Thomas said as he paused briefly to look back one more time. “Everyone you get close to is in danger.”
He jumped when he felt a hand on his shoulder, calming down when he saw it was Buffy. He looked around when he noticed how much hotter it seemed to be.
“You okay?” she asked softly as she helped him up.
“What are you doing here?” he asked, confusion on his face.
“You’ve been gone for hours, Giles. I got worried.”
He was about to ask her what she meant when he looked at his watch.
Giles shook his head and looked at it again. That couldn’t be right. It had barely been 7:15 when he left that morning. He jumped again when he felt someone touch him.
“Hey, it’s just me.” Buffy said calmly, giving him a reassuring smile. “Do you know what happened?”
“I just took a small break. I…I must have pushed myself too hard and…” he trailed off, his fingers going up to touch the cut above his eye.
He dropped his hand and looked at his Slayer. He knew he should tell her about the jogger and his strange message, but a voice in the back of his head told him not to. He didn’t want her to have to worry about him more than she already did.
“And I must have just dozed off. I didn’t get much sleep last night,” he smirked slightly. That wasn’t a complete lie.
Buffy rolled her eyes and looped her arm through his. They started walking towards the start of the trail.
“You’re the one who started things last night.”
They laughed softly as they left the trail, heading towards his apartment. He looked around and saw the jogger from earlier, swallowing nervously. The jogger just looked at him with a grin, his hand resting on his left bicep. The Watcher just shook his head slightly and turned his attention back to his girlfriend, hoping she hadn’t noticed he had stopped listening.
He mentally made a note to look into what the jogger had said the next time he was alone.