Title: Drink and the Demon
Rating: PG-13 for minor cursing and violence.
Text/Font Conventions: Italics represent emphasis.
Length: Approximately 6920 (8070 with Author's Notes)
Characters: Primarily Drunken!Giles! (of course), plus the Demon, with a smattering of Buffy and [Ethan Rayne] <(highlight to reveal at your own spoiled peril :-) ). No pairings.
Timeframe: Mid-Season 4-ish, when Buffy is running around with Riley and the Initiative, and Giles is sinking into depression. Could be a direct replacement for a certain mid-season episode, but I can't tell you without spoiling. Also, for purposes of this story, the “stevedore” conversation has already happened.
Summary: Response to 2011 Drunken!Giles Ficathon Prompt #9 by brutti_ma_buoni: “Giles Gen: Giles has to face a fearsome foe who can addle any sober brain. Therefore, Giles is drunk and in danger. But it's all part of the plan.”
Thanks To: Antennapedia for running the Drunken!Giles Ficathon each year – its such a fun playground! Cheers!
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: Minor angst and bad language, major hilarity (at least I hope you think so). Slight bias against Riley/Initiative, nothing too terrible.
Bonus Reader's Challenge: Find five unique Library or Library Science related words disguised/ensconced within the story and report back in the comments. If you get all five, you win! (my admiration and virtual scones, that is :-) ).
Drink and the Demon
Giles grunted in annoyance at the sound of the knock on his front door and the familiar sound of a package landing at his threshold. He knew it couldn't be Buffy because, a) she never came round to see him any more, b) she never knocked even when she used to do so, and c) package sounds were not Buffy sounds.
It was only 3PM, but Giles was already working his way to a good full-on drunk. He knew, wise man that he was, that it would not help his anger and his loneliness, but at least it would eventually let him sleep. At least in his dreams he was still Buffy's Watcher, and she his Slayer, and in those dreams she gave half an damn whether or not he was alive or dead.
Giles settled himself more deeply into his old green couch and worked his way through another half-glass of scotch. Morose and miserable didn't come close to describing his mood. Though he tried to ignore it, the indomitable little demon that was his curiosity won out, prodding him incessantly with sharp, pointy little “what if's” until he rose to investigate the arrival on his front porch.
A few moments later, Giles sat at his desk, scotch in hand, staring somberly at a very boring looking brown paper and twine-wrapped package.
It stared somberly back.
The package gave no clue to its origins - of course. There was no return address, no tell-tale markings, the handwriting unrecognizable – of course. It was addressed to “R.E.G.” at his flat - hmmm. So whomever sent it either got very lucky, or knew of him well enough to know his middle name.
His letter-opener/knife lay ready at his hand. He ignored it.
Giles let out a overly dramatic sigh and stood. He wasn't in the mood for mystery. He was in the mood for being drunk. What good was mystery without the ability to share it with someone? Mystery by itself was useless, without flavor, without purpose.
Like a Watcher without his Slayer.
He made it almost exactly halfway back to the couch.
“Oh, BLOODY Hell!” he growled angrily, spinning to stalk back to the package, wobbling only slightly. He loudly cursed the parcel, any underlying mystery associated with it, the delivery man, and gave an especially virulent Sumerian curse for the scoundrel who'd had the nerve to interrupt his drunken funk by sending it.
Decision made, Giles wasted no time in tearing through the wrappings with hand and knife. Beneath the paper was a nondescript box with a lid. He was about to rip off the lid when his training pushed itself alarmedly through his haze of anger and inebriation.
“Slow down, old man,” he chided himself. “No sense ending up a toad for no good reason. Probably run out of flies in here before anyone ever found you.” He thought about whether or not he really cared about that, but finally decided his pride could not bear his epitaph to read, “Opened box without checking first.”
Giles closed his eyes and composed himself, extending his left hand over the box and reciting a few small spells of detection. He reached out with his senses and felt nothing. In his business he knew that this package almost certainly spelled trouble, but with the absence of any obvious danger, he decided to risk it.
He lifted the lid cautiously.
He saw tissue paper. It was a truly vile green color.
He pulled aside the tissue paper.
There was an elegant liquor bottle and an amulet of some sort.
He lifted the bottle to examine it, and found it to be a truly fine bottle of aged scotch, the kind which would have set him back several hundred dollars had he been the sort of person to spend that kind of money to get drunk, which he wasn't.
Turning his attention to the amulet, he repeated his detection spell and found the item to be apparently magically inert. It was however, quite impressive, very heavy, about four inches in diameter, solid gold with a long gold chain. A face of some sort of demon or god had been carefully hammered into the front from the reverse. It was the work of a master craftsman, or perhaps crafts-thing. It wasn't particularly evil-looking, but it was certainly damned impressive.
Giles rummaged around in the box and tissue paper, seeking any notes or additional clues as to his benefactor.
Giles puzzled over his puzzle. What could be the sender's reasoning? Was this just a gift, or was it a request for help? Should he be expecting additional packages, or perhaps a clandestine visit? He returned to the use of his middle initial. Only his immediate family, the Council, and a very few close associates knew his middle name or initial. Not even Buffy or her friends knew.
Giles knew that while the Council certainly had the means to do this, their involvement didn't make much sense. They'd cut him off, and Wesley, too, now. It had been over a year since his last confrontation with them, and he was unaware of having displeased them in any way recently, not that he would really care. Besides, he knew that when it came down to it, if the Council wanted him dead, he would be dead. He would simply disappear into the hands of one of the wetworks teams, and his body would never be found.
The only member of his old gang still alive was Ethan, and Ethan was locked up tight in custody of the Initiative. Giles felt certain that young Riley Finn, tiresome as the two-dimensional soldier-boy was, would let him know if Ethan had escaped or been released. Giles frowned deeply in sudden anger, and the memory of making that same mistake before with a certain someone else sent a pain through his chest like the slash of a dagger through the heart.
He took a deep drink from his glass.
Back to the matter at hand. It was someone who knew him fairly well. Someone whose primary purpose was not to kill him, at least not outright. Perhaps it was just someone who wanted some help identifying the amulet, and the scotch was a down payment for services rendered to a client as yet to be revealed. He knew he certainly had the skills necessary to dig into this mystery.
He though about that a moment. What if someone was deliberately trying to distract him from something else more important? He dismissed the thought almost immediately. He hadn't been doing anything of substance recently, and Sunnydale was horrifically quiet at the moment between Buffy and the toy soldiers. There wasn't anything going on to be distracted from.
And it wasn't as if he had anything better to do.
It appeared the only way to get to the next step would be to do a bit of research and see where the puzzle led.
He could do that.
He would do that.
A few hours later, Giles remained in a steady-state of drunkenness, the good scotch dwindling as he deeply ensconced himself in research, a veritable wall of books surrounding him on all sides. Some were opened flat to particular passages, some were fitted with book marks, some had already been discarded as unsuitable to the mission, and a few had yet to be opened.
Eventually the beauty of cross-referencing paid off, and Giles hit the demonology jackpot.
There it was – the amulet. Page 2097 of Galdafrutche's 1179 "Anthology of Mythological Forces and Beings." Giles poured over the appropriate chapter and references for nearly two hours, translating and studying, checking and re-checking.
It was a Yrarbil. That is, the Yrarbil were the race of demons who made use of the particular sort of amulet Giles had been sent. The amulets, known as koob, were the source of the demon's power. A Yrarbil without its koob would be a very unhappy Yrarbil indeed.
The Yrarbil were reported to be of moderate size for a demon species, about a head taller and twice the shoulder width of an average 6 foot human male. They generally kept to themselves, but were reported to be absolutely ferocious and deadly when provoked, making good use of hand-held weapons, along with their heavy jaws and teeth, claws and a modest clubbed tail. Their skin was dark gray, thick and leathery, and stubbed over with half-inch high sharp warts. Trying to engage one in any sort of close-quarters combat would be suicidal for a human, as one would be torn to shreds on the demon's skin.
Despite the danger, however, certain persons in medieval times had deliberately hunted the Yrarbil. They believed that they could achieve great power by taking a koob for themselves. Only a few ever succeeded. The Yrarbil, it seems, don't take kindly to theft. Although its koob was the demon's ultimate source of power, it was more than capable of slaughtering a few enemies without it.
Giles glanced at the amulet he held in his hand. Somewhere there was either a very, very dead, or very, very unhappy, Yrarbil demon. He swallowed tightly, wondering where the owner of this particular specimen was.
Giles checked the last cross reference and found one other important piece of information. Yrarbil, like many demons, have the ability to influence the minds of their opponents, humans included. Put plainly, a Yrarbil can make you go insane just by looking at you. It doesn't even need to make eye contact.
Luckily there is one defense – you have to be out of your mind stone cold drunk.
Giles shook his head to clear his thoughts and refocus his eyes. He tossed his glasses to the top of the desk, rubbed his eyes and leaned way back in his chair, running his hands through his hair, taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly.
He quickly pulled his glasses back on and stared again at the items before him.
It was perhaps starting to make some sense now, at least in his inebriated state. It seemed someone intended that he should go and meet up with a Yrarbil demon for some reason, and had provided him some very lovely chemical means to do so without losing his mind, and presumably his life.
While sending him up against a Yrarbil certainly seemed like a death sentence, it didn't make sense as an assassination plot. If the sender had meant for him to be killed, that could easily have been accomplished by merely poisoning the alcohol. Given that the bottle was now more than two-thirds empty and he felt quite nicely sloshed, but not a bit dead, it seemed unlikely that poison was on the agenda.
Giles was intrigued. He knew he was playing directly into the hands of whomever had sent him this gift, but right then he didn't care. If he was going to investigate this mystery, he needed more information about the Yrarbil, preferably a first-hand account of some sort. Turning back to the Galdafrutche book again, he reread the section about the few who dared take the demons on. Only one name was recorded – Doggerd IV, The Lord Finnesdew, late of England.
Finnesdew. Finnesdew – he knew that name. He knew he'd seen it somewhere, somewhere, but where? He dug his fingers in his hair and closed his eyes, forcing his brain to work.
He reached for his handy record of all the names in all the crypts of the Sunnydale cemeteries that he had compiled on the long nights on watch with Buffy in their early years. He flipped furiously through his carefully hand-written notes.
It was in the Dewey crypt in Restfield. A very old crypt. The name perhaps evolved and shortened from Finnesdew or perhaps the family name of a spouse of long ago. He tried to picture the inside of the crypt in his mind, but it had been a long time. He knew he had sketches somewhere, but the crypt was a mere twenty minutes walk away. He could probably be investigating first-hand before he could find the relevant sketchbook.
It would also be dark in twenty minutes.
He had a very sudden uncomfortable thought. What if the Yrarbil had access to similar information?
Giles cleared his throat in determination. Yes, it would be dark. It wouldn't be particularly safe, and there was a possibility that an angry demon might be headed the same way, but he was tired of his safe, boring life. His interest was piqued, and he wanted to see it through. After all, he rationalized, he was already drunk, so there would never be a better time!
Giles stood quickly.
Giles sat down quicker, head spinning.
After a moment, Giles stood slowly and carefully. Slowly and carefully, he made his way to the coat tree by the door and shrugged into his heavy leather coat. Returning to his desk, he tucked the amulet safely into an interior pocket of his coat. He tilted the final ounces of the good scotch into his glass and downed them, feeling quite confident and very well prepared indeed.
He turned to head out the door, but then thought better of it and made a quick stop at his weapons chest for his favorite sword and shoulder sheath on the way. He set off for Restfield with a silly and eager grin on his face.
Buffy jogged her way toward Giles' apartment. It had been a very quiet evening, and the vamp and demon count had been surprisingly low on patrol. With Riley away for training and the evening only half-way complete, Buffy decided to pay a visit to her ex-Watcher. She knew it hadn't been that long since she'd seen him, or so she thought, and she didn't have anything else she had to do, so why not?
As usual, Giles' door was unlocked and she simply walked in.
Wow. It looked like a library bomb had exploded in his living room, judging by the piles of books everywhere.
A liquor bomb had gone off as well, by the smell of things. She wrinkled her nose at the sharp odor and the sight of the empty bottles of Scotch and assorted glasses.
“Giles,” she called out softly, “you here?”
There was no reply, but Buffy's Slayer hearing detected faint sounds in the upstairs loft.
“Whoever's up there, you've got exactly three seconds to show yourself before I come up there and introduce you to the first floor the hard way.”
“Ah, my dear Buffy,” came the smooth, sibilant tones of Ethan Rayne as he glided into view at the loft railing. “So nice to see you again.”
“What are you doing here? Where's Giles?”
“My dear, girl . . . so hostile,” Ethan tisked and frowned dramatically.
“Three . . . Two . . .”
“Okay, okay, don't get all riled up, I'm coming down.” Ethan descended the stairs toward Buffy, his hands spread in surrender. “Why I'm here is to check up on our dear Rupert, of course. As to where he is, I have no idea for certain.”
“And for uncertain?”
“Well, after a quick glance at all these books he's got laid out, I'd say he was investigating some sort of demon relic. Something that may have arrived in this very box right here.” Ethan swept his hand over the opened package on Giles' desk.
“I beg your pardon?”
“Why was he drinking so much?”
“Buffy, please, he's an Englishman.”
“The only time I see him drinking is when you're involved.”
“Oh, you wound me - so unfair.” Ethan replied melodramatically, and then his face darkened noticeably. “Perhaps you're simply not around enough to see then. Rupert drinks for lots of reasons. Not the least of which is his Slayer ignoring him and taking up with a bunch of military half-wits who can't hold a candle to him.”
Buffy swallowed tightly at the cutting words, but pressed on. “Wow, nice,” she replied acidly. “So when did you become his biggest fan?”
“My dear girl, I was a fan of Rupert's before you were a twinkle in your parents' doting eyes.”
Something in Ethan's tone, something that reeked of dirtiness and obscenity, set Buffy off. She grabbed him by his shirt front and shoved him, hard, up against the stair wall.
“If you've got something to say, say it, and without all the innuendo.”
“What I'm saying, my dear, is that Rupert is a mind alive. He gets bored without something to sink his mental teeth into, as it were. A bored Rupert is a Rupert who gets himself into trouble. Someone clearly sent this little puzzle to stimulate his mind – dust off the cobwebs so to speak.”
“You bastard!” Buffy shouted, slamming the sorcerer into the wall again.
“I didn't say it was me!” Ethan complained.
Buffy rolled her eyes. “Oh, please. You didn't have to! Any time you're around, it's trouble for him - for all of us.”
“Trust me, my dear, he wouldn't have it any other way,” Ethan rumbled carnally.
Buffy glared the Buffy Glare of Death and Annoyance. “I think you are deliberately wasting my time.”
“You have ten seconds before you lose limb number one.”
“Now don't be hasty, I know all about your vicious little tendencies. He went to one of the Sunnydale cemeteries for information.”
“Which one?” SLAM! “Which ONE!!”
“Restfield. Have fun my dear.” Ethan gave a dismissive little wave.
“Not so fast. You're coming with me.”
“Now hold on right there, I really don't think that's neces . . . .”
Ethan stumbled as Buffy shoved him bodily out Giles' front door.
Giles strode purposefully through the Restfield cemetery, heading for the area in which he knew the Dewey crypt to be located. He wasn't sure what he would find. Hopefully at least some script or artwork on the exterior on interior which would give him some further clues as to Yrarbil history and why a koob would be found without an associated Yrarbil.
The cemetery was surprisingly quiet. Buffy must be having an easy night of it, Giles mused, either that or she'd already been through and taken out the night's allotment of demons and vampires. He tried not to think about whether or not Riley and the tin boys had been there to help her or not.
As he neared the crypt, Giles slowed his pace. Although he might be quite pickled, he was by no means stupid or suicidal. He drew his sword and checked around him on all sides, listening carefully as he came up to the entrance of the crypt. Seeing and hearing nothing amiss, he began to descend the small, worn marble steps to the entrance. Sword in his left hand, Giles laid his right on the ornate bronze door ring and gave a firm tug.
The door opened much more easily than he had anticipated. In fact, it swung open rather suddenly, causing him to take a step backward and leaving him face to shoulders with something rather large and dark.
Giles looked up and met a pair of glowing greenish eyes looking down.
Human and demon eyes went wide in surprise.
A human and a demon scream of startled fear rang through the air.
Giles' mind quickly ran through the Yrarbil checklist . . . Tall – check, broad – check, huge jaws and teeth – check, dark leathery skin – check, covered with sharp warts all over – check.
Human and demon stood frozen a moment longer, just long enough for Giles to wonder if the demon had a checklist of its own it was working on. He saw the beast glance at his sword and then back up to his eyes.
It let out a tremendous roar and took a step forward.
Giles let out a yell of terror and scrambled back up the marble steps as though . . . well, as though a demon were right behind him, which, of course, one was.
Giles had no idea how fast a Yrarbil could move, but he knew damn well that trying to fight it on the marble steps would be fatal, as he'd be unable to swing his sword and keep his footwork. His best chance was to get up onto the grass, into a clear area, where he'd have half a chance of defending himself. The close growls behind him left no doubt that the creature would not be satisfied with simply chasing him up the steps.
As Giles turned to meet the demon's attack, he saw to his dismay that the thing had drawn a massive flanged mace from a belt around its middle, and now held it menacingly in its right hand.
Giles swallowed heavily. He knew his reaction time at the moment was deplorable, courtesy of the alcohol. At least, he mused, he wouldn't lose his mind before being bludgeoned to death. Bloody fabulous.
“Right, old man," he told himself. "Use what you have, then.”
The Yrarbil charged, mace raised.
Giles braced his feet and put all of his strength behind his sword to deflect the mace around him to his left, following through with a trip from his right leg and a shove from his right shoulder. He cried out in pain as he felt the Yrarbil's sharp warts tear into his skin through his trousers leg as the beast stumbled. His shoulder fared somewhat better beneath his heavy leather coat, but he knew he couldn't stand up to this level of attack for long.
The Yrarbil overbalanced and went tumbling to the earth a few feet away, snarling angrily.
As it stood, something fell from a pouch at its belt. Something round, about 4 inches in diameter, gold with a golden chain. Giles stared at it a moment as the beast regained its feet, wondering if it was what he thought it was. It didn't make sense. If this Yrarbil already had its own amulet, what was it doing at the crypt? What would it be doing looking for another? According to the ancient books, each amulet was supposed to be individual to each demon.
The Yrarbil glared at him, no doubt wondering why he hadn't gone stark raving mad as yet. Then it seemed to notice where Giles was looking.
It stopped growling. Setting its mace aside, the Yrarbil picked up its amulet and spoke. It was completely unintelligible to Giles, but was clearly intended as language, not a battle cry or mindless animal sounds.
“I'm terribly sorry old fellow,” Giles replied in English. “But I haven't a clue to what you're saying.”
The Yrarbil snorted in mild annoyance, then gestured with its amulet and repeated its prior statements slowly and carefully, as if for a particularly unintelligent child.
Giles could only assume that the Yrarbil must be asking him about the other amulet, in particular, the one he'd received in the mail and now had on his person. The Yrarbil had almost certainly been inside the Dewey crypt for the same reason he had intended himself and would be curious why Giles was there as well. It most likely wanted information on the missing amulet. Giles wasn't sure pulling the amulet out and revealing that he was its current possessor would do anything to lengthen his expected lifespan beyond the mere moments he currently believed himself to have, so he didn't. Instead, since it seemed to be willing to talk for the moment, he tried some greetings in a few ancient dialects of which he hoped the Yrarbil might have some knowledge.
The Yrarbil did what Giles assumed passed for a frown among its species. It tried one more time to communicate, this time at what was probably idiot level speed and intonation, and held up its own amulet again.
Giles smiled weakly and began to slowly back away. Communication was clearly at an impasse.
The Yrarbil frowned and growled a warning.
Giles shook his head and held up his hands, continuing to back away.
The Yrarbil snarled and stepped toward him. Giles noted that it had not yet picked up its mace. Giles raised his sword to the warn the demon off, as if he had any of the traditional snowball's chance of defeating the thing in his current condition with just his sword.
The Yrarbil snorted and gestured at Giles' sword, then gestured back to its own mace lying on the ground behind it. Giles desperately wished he understood. It could go either way, he realized. It could mean, “You don't need your weapon, I'm not going to hurt you, just tell me what I want to know.” Or it could mean, “Silly human, you're for the knackers' anyway, and I don't need my mace to shred you to crumbs.”
Giles knew if he fought he would die - he was too encumbered with the alcohol to sustain an effective defense, let alone mount an effective attack. He'd been lucky with his first parry and throw. The Yrarbil would likely not be tricked a second time. He looked the Yrarbil in the eyes and it looked back steadily. He made his decision.
Giles lowered his sword.
The Yrarbil snorted, a much lighter tone this time, its frown disappeared and it stepped up to Giles. It was everything Giles could do not to run. The Yrarbil reached for his sword and tugged gently. Giles swallowed and relaxed his hand, allowing the Yrarbil to take the weapon from him. The demon laid it carefully on the ground beside them. Giles swallowed nervously as the Yrarbil rose to face him once again.
Standing close, but apparently trying to avoid abject intimidation, the Yrarbil held its own amulet up again for Giles to see. A clawed hand touched Giles' chest gently, then his face beside his eyes, then touched the amulet. Giles knew he couldn't play dumb on this one. Language aside, he had clearly just been asked if he had seen one. He tried one last stalling tactic and gestured back to the crypt.
The Yrarbil shook its head and touched his chest again, more firmly this time. “No,” he knew it meant, “have you seen a real one?”
Giles smiled another weak smile. The adrenaline of the initial encounter was wearing off, and the mixture of scotch, pain, stress and lack of food was getting the better of him. He could feel the blood running down his right leg, and the sweat running down his back. He was starting to feel quite ill. He took a step backward and stumbled on a half-buried rock, surprised to find himself capably steadied in two large clawed hands, one at his shoulder and one at his hip.
Giles gulped as he realized what the hand at his hip was resting near. The Yrarbil caught on at the same moment. Its eyes widened, but in apparent curiosity, not anger. It began to prod through Giles' coat, trying to get the measure of what was inside.
Giles couldn't help himself. He was ticklish, dammit, and moreso when drunk to the gills as he currently was. He started squirming and giggling uncontrollably.
“Oh, Dear Lord, stop! Oh, please . . . God . . . tickles . . . God, stop – stop, please!”
The struggle continued until inevitably they lost balance together and tumbled to the ground. Fortunately, the Yrarbil seemed to have a good understanding of what parts of Giles it could touch or not in order to avoid injuring him. Giles found himself on his back, the Yrarbil kneeling over him. The claws in his coat had slowed his fall, and the demon had been careful not to otherwise land on him with any of its sharp warts.
The Yrarbil continued to rummage through Giles' clothing, trying to locate the amulet, but Giles continued to squirm and giggle and laugh. Finally, in apparent frustration, the Yrarbil put its hands on its hips and glared. In a moment, Giles caught his breath, stopped laughing and looked sheepishly up at the the demon leaning over him. The demon could have killed him about a hundred times over by now, Giles knew, but had refrained from doing so. He made a decision. Slowly reaching into the interior zippered pocket of his coat, he withdrew the amulet he had been sent. He held it up for the demon.
The Yrarbil's eyes widened and its lips pulled back slightly from its terrifying teeth in what Giles supposed passed for a smile among its kind. The demon took the offered amulet and examined it carefully, then grimaced even wider, apparently satisfied. It reached a clawed hand down to gently grip Giles' shoulder. Giles breathed a heavy sigh of relief that it didn't seem inclined to slaughter him for mere possession of its treasured item.
“Buffy, wait!” Ethan shouted, grabbing at her arm as they were about to break from the cover of the trees at the edge of Restfield Cemetery, not far from where a Yrarbil demon knelt towering over Rupert Giles. “Look, will you! It's not hurting him. They're . . . I think they're talking about it.”
Reluctantly, Buffy paused a moment to observe.
“I think they're okay,” Ethan continued. “I'm not sure you should disturb them right now,” he urged. “Startling things that look like that never ends well. Besides, if it knows you're the Slayer, it might feel threatened and act, well, rashly.”
Buffy clenched her jaws and fists and waited, much as it nearly killed her to do so. She wanted to tell the sorcerer that she was waiting due to her Watcher's training in patient observation, not Ethan's words, but it didn't seem worth the trouble just then.
She held her breath and observed, but definitely not patiently.
Giles was surprised when the Yrarbil placed the amulet from Giles' coat on his chest. It then reached to pick up its own amulet, which it presumably had dropped when it had reached out to steady him. With the two amulets on the human's chest, the demon reached into its pouch and pulled out what appeared to be a small, leather bound journal of some sort and began to flip through it. When it found the page it wanted, it turned the book around for Giles to see. There were several hand drawn sketches of Yrarbil and amulets – a Yrarbil with an amulet looking tall and strong, a Yrarbil without its amulet looking small and weak. It confirmed what Giles had read earlier about the Yrarbil's power and the amulets. The demon flipped through a few more pages for Giles to see.
“Blessed Chaos, it's a Librarian Demon!” Ethan shouted. “It's having story time with dear old Rupert! Could this be any better?” The sorcerer dropped to his knees in laughter, then raised his arms skyward. “My Lord, Janus, you are simply too good to your servant!! I humbly offer you my thanks!”
Annoyed, Buffy applied a forceful boot to Ethan's shoulder. “You don't have a humble bone in your entire body!” she barked as she kicked him. He toppled over onto his side, still laughing.
Her next, very, very petulant words of, “Oh, shut up!” had little effect. Neither did the boot to his rear a moment later.
A few further moments later, she began walking slowly and as non-threateningly as she could manage toward her Watcher and his apparent new best-bud demon pal.
Ethan waited until Buffy was a good distance off, then quietly bolted for the hills, most thoroughly pleased with himself.
Somewhere in a hell dimension, Janus chuckled merrily.
After a few moments with the journal, the demon gestured to the two amulets at Giles' chest, indicating that Giles should examine them more closely, which he did. When he'd looked at the front, the demon made the universal finger gesture for spinning, indicating that he should examine the rear as well.
Giles noted that while the front faces of the amulets were essentially identical, the rear faces were not. If he were interpreting it correctly, the rear faces contained a type of writing or runes of some kind, and each was unique. Perhaps this was why the amulets were said to be unique to each Yrarbil. An engraved name perhaps? Or maybe a clan?
Giles picked up the amulet that had fallen from the demon's pouch and gestured between it and the demon. The demon nodded enthusiastically, pleased that Giles was understanding. Yes, that was this demon's amulet. Got it.
Giles held up the other amulet and raised his eyebrows in question. The demon's look turned more somber. Giles swallowed hard, not sure what the connection was. The demon turned back to the frontispiece of its book and handed it to Giles, who stared at it for a moment or two. It looked remarkably like a family genealogy that would be written in front of a Bible or other holy book. Giles looked at the symbols in the various connected shapes. The script was familiar. He turned over the two amulets and located the matching script in the chart. The script from the demon's amulet matched that in the last shape on the chart. The script from the other amulet matched that in one of two shapes on the next level up.
Seeing the recognition in Giles' eyes, the demon turned to one more drawing in the book. It showed what appeared to be group of human beings attacking a lone Yrarbil. The Yrarbil's amulet was on the ground and it appeared wounded. The humans had swords.
Dear Lord. No wonder that thing had charged him at the crypt.
“Humans with swords killed one of your parents,” Giles interpreted aloud. “Someone from the Finnesdew family no doubt. I'm so sorry," he said with genuine sympathy, not knowing if the Yrarbil would understand from his tone.
Giles reached out to grip the demon's shoulder, but thought better of it. Instead he turned his hand sideways so he could pat in between warts. The demon seemed to understand the gesture of sympathy and accepted with a nod. “Having this – having this brings your family close again. I wish I could tell you I understand. And also thank you so very much for not killing me in many different sorts of horrible ways, by the way.”
The demon picked up the missing amulet and held it high in the air, then it made a gesture of cradling it in its arms. Then it placed the two amulets together in its hands, rocking them gently. Finally, it touched Giles' chest, then gestured to the trees at the edge of the cemetery, seemed to pluck something from the air, then cradled that to its chest as well.
Giles struggled to focus his eyes to where the demon had gestured, and managed, just barely, to make out the shape of Buffy walking slowly toward them.
“Yes,” he muttered, nodding his understanding and assent. “Everyone thinks I'm her father.” His addled brain didn’t bother to try just then to understand how the demon came about its knowledge of his relationship with his Slayer.
The demon gave its ferociously happy grimace once again. Then with another glance at Buffy's approach, it quickly placed both amulets safely in its pouch and tied it tightly closed. It then rose to its feet above Giles and pulled him gently to his own feet by his coat, being careful not to injure him further. It released him when he was steady, then picked up his sword and proffered it to him with a small nod. Giles accepted, nodding in return.
With a cheerful snarl, the Yrarbil raised a clawed hand in farewell, and Giles replied in kind. The demon picked up its mace and set off at a good trot out of the cemetery in the opposite direction of Buffy's approach.
“Giles, you're drunk!” Buffy complained as she came up to her Watcher where he'd been set on his feet by the Yrarbil.
“Yes, I'm afraid I am, rather.” He cleared his throat. “Was all part of the plan, I assure you.”
“And did that plan include you being out here in the dark, alone, in a cemetery, by yourself - in the dark?" She knew she wasn't exactly being coherent, but dammit, she'd been worried about him.
“All correct. Are you going to scold me now, and tell me to be a good boy or you'll spank me?” Giles returned in drunken defiance. He simply wasn't in the mood for a self-righteous lecture from his mostly-absent Slayer at that moment.
Buffy suppressed the first image that Giles' words caused to leap into her mind. No, so not going there. The second image was that of being with Giles in his old Citroen, after she had utterly failed to kill Angelus that first time at the Sunnydale Mall. She remembered her Watcher's gentle, sincere voice, “ . . . All you will get from me is my support . . . and my respect.” She gave herself a good mental kick and vowed to do better. Much as she hated to admit it, Ethan was at least partly right, and this was all at least partly her fault for leaving her Watcher to fend for himself. Glancing down, she noted his torn trousers and the blood at his right leg.
“No,” Buffy replied gently. “I'm just here to make sure you're okay. Why don't we get you home and I'll take care of your leg. I'll even make you tea.”
“That sounds . . . heavenly,” Giles replied, surprised but pleased by her change of tone. Buffy took custody of Giles' sword, then slipped her shoulder beneath his arm and slipped her arm around his waist to steady him.
They walked on in silence for a few moments. He was limping rather badly by that time, and nearly exhausted.
“How did you know I was here? That I potentially was in danger?”
“You were out here alone, in the dark, and . . . well, let's just say I could tell you probably weren't at your best. That equals danger.”
“And the rest? The location? You figured it out from reading my books, did you?” he asked gently, knowing it wouldn't be true.
“That? Oh, well, I had a little help . . . you might say a little birdie told me.”
“The kind with a pointy hat with stars on it.”
“Ethan Rayne,” Giles said, knowing it instantly for the fact that it was.
“I had to beat it out of him, as usual.”
“Of course. Chaos. I was a most - a most fitting target.”
“I'd like to kick myself for saying this, but I think he meant well, in his own twisted, put-your-life-in-danger sort of way.”
“Yes, that would be Ethan.”
“He also said he'd been your biggest fan since before I was born. He said it, I don't know, kinda weird. Now, I don't want you to walk into any trees or anything, but what was up with that?”
Giles cleared his throat. “I'm afraid that falls squarely into the category of 'Things We Shall Speak Of Never'.”
“Like stevedores, hunh?” Buffy said with a smile, looking up into his warm green, through somewhat glassy, eyes.
Giles didn't reply. He simply hugged his Slayer close and was happy to be hugged in return.
(PS: Don't forget the Bonus Reader's Challenge - see headers at top of story for all the exciting details!)
Author's Notes for Drink and the Demon