Giles watched as the leader left the room. His head sank to his chest. He realized that one of his biggest fears had become a reality he couldn't protect Willow.
He had faced that particular fear when the Master had killed Buffy. If it hadn't been for Xander's timely intervention, he shuddered at the thought.
He knew he wouldn't survive if the same fate were to befall Willow.
“Well... I think it's time you took another nap,” Giles heard before he was knocked out again.
“Buffy?” he muttered. He couldn't see what was happening outside his office, he only heard the commotion. His head ached, he could barely see, and his wrist was numb, but his main concern was for Willow, he had to get to her. “Willow... can you hear me?” he called out. Inching his chair forward, as he tried to get around his desk. “Willow? Please, answer me if you can,” he said, the concern in his voice evident.
“Giles... she's not here,” Buffy said as she entered his office.
“What do you mean she's not here?” his mind refusing to accept the information.
“Giles... don't move. Xander's calling for an ambulance, we've got to get you to the hospital,” she said as she gingerly released him from his bonds.
“Willow?” he said.
“Giles, listen to me very carefully. Willow's gone, Angel's trying to find her,” she told him.
“What do you mean Angel's out looking for her? She was HERE! damn it!” he shouted.
Sorrow filled Buffy's face, “Giles, what's the last thing you remember?” she asked.
Closing his eyes, he thought back. “I think someone said... ‘She's here?' I'm not sure, and if I... “ he swallowed as the tears began to fall. “If I gave them any problems, to... kill... to...” a large lump formed in his throat, making it impossible for him to continue.
“It's okay Giles, we'll find her, don't worry,” Buffy told him, wrapping her arm around his shoulders as he cried.
Buffy noticed Xander standing in the doorway, and placing her index finger on her lips, she gestured for Xander to leave them alone. He nodded his head, and waited outside.
“It's all my fault,” he muttered.
“Giles, it's not your fault. You're not to blame,” the Slayer told him.
“Yes... it is. She'd be safe at home this very moment if it wasn't for me,” he said.
“Giles, stop that, stop it right now. You don't know that. Who knows what would have happened to her without you here? Look at where she lives!” Buffy told him, throwing her arms in the air. “Where we all live.”
Kneeling next to him, she looked into his face and, despite the beatings he had obviously taken; she had never seen the look of total despair on it... until now.
“I couldn't live with myself if something happens to her Buffy,” he whispered.
“Giles... I know you care for Willow, we all do...”
“Not like I do,” he told her as he looked into her eyes.
“What do you mean?”
“I love Willow,” Giles said, wondering how Buffy would react to the statement he had made.
“I love her too Giles,” she replied with a confused look on her face. “She's like a sister to me.”
“You don't understand Buffy... I'm in love with her,” he explained.
“OH...” the realization of what he had said finally dawning on her, “Giles... does she know?” she asked.
He nodded, “I told her last week, after the incident with Drucilla.”
Buffy could hear the sirens as the paramedics approached the school. She wanted to talk with him; she could understand the situation he was in, more so than anyone else. She wouldn't tell Xander what Giles had confided to her, she suspected that he wouldn't take the news as calmly as she had.
“Giles, the paramedics are almost here. Hang on,” she told him as she stood up and went to his office door, seeing Xander pacing in front of the check out counter. “Xander,” she called out, “why don't you go outside and show them the way in here... okay?”
“Right... how is he?” he asked, genuinely concerned for the librarian's well being.
“He's hurt pretty bad, keeps blaming himself, about... you know,” she shrugged.
“Willow's okay... I know it. She has to be. I... I'd... better get going,” he said gesturing towards the library door.
“Good idea, I'll be in here,” she replied, as she watched Xander leave the library before returning to Giles.
“Silly question... but are you okay?” she asked, as soon as she walked back into his office.
“I'm as well as can be expected under the circumstances. I can't feel my wrist... my head feels as if someone were playing percussion instruments on it,” he said laughing. “I can't see out of one eye... the one... the one person I love more than anything else in the world ... is... is missing... I'm... I'm doing tremendously well, wouldn't you agree?” he said sarcastically, pounding the top of his desk with his good hand.
“Getting mad isn't helping Giles,” she told him. “I mean... what would Willow say in a time like this, huh?”
“She'd probably say something insightful, like... ‘Giles, you should save your strength. You'll need it later,' or something along that line,” he replied, tasting the blood flowing from the cut in his mouth.
“I think you should listen to her, for both your sakes,” Buffy told him.
“Oh... dear lord,” he said.
“What's the matter?”
“Willow's parents. They're bound to wonder where what's taking her so long. I left a message on their answering machine; Mr. Rosenberg drove her here... Oh... God,” he told Buffy as he attempted to stand up, only to have her forcibly sit him back down, ‘What are we going to do?' he asked himself, running his good hand through his hair.
“Where do you think you're going? Never mind, don't answer that, I'd probably do the same if Angel were in trouble. Um..... I'll... I'll handle Willow's parents, what are you going to tell the cops, that's what I'd like to know. What are we going to tell them?” she asked.
Willow could hear water dripping somewhere. ‘That's odd... I don't remember any faucets in the library.' she thought. “Rupert...? Are you here?” she whispered.
“No, he's not,” came the reply. “Who's there?” she asked, scooting back until she hit a wall.
“A friend Willow, that's all.”
“If you're such a friend, then let me go,” the young woman replied.
“I can't do that just yet, but I will... soon. I promise.”
“Will you at least take the blindfold off?” she asked.
“Sorry, no can do.”
“Do I know you?” she asked.
“There's a bed off to the right of where you're sitting. Try to get some rest, I'll be back later with something for you to eat. Good-bye Willow.”
“WAIT! Don't leave, please. Why are you doing this to me? What have I done!?” she pleaded.
“You haven't done a thing and as to why I'm doing this? That'll be my secret for now.”
Willow heard a door opening and closing. She sat huddled on the floor afraid to move, afraid to do anything. Her hands were tied behind her back, making it impossible for her to remove the blindfold herself.
There was nothing in her short life that could have prepared her for something like this.
‘Rupert? Are you alive? Please... help me,' she thought to herself.
“Let's go over this again, shall we? You say that you came by to see...” the officer looked down to his notebook, “Mr. Giles?” he saw the teenager nod in agreement. “Because of what?”
“I came to see him because I needed to ask him a question about a book, he's the librarian... who better to ask but a librarian?” Buffy replied, watching as the paramedics worked on Giles.
“Okay... so, you came to ask him about a book. What happened when you and your boyfriend got here?” he gestured to Xander who was speaking to another officer a few feet away, “What did you see?”
“Well... Xander... my boyfriend and I just arrived when this creepy looking guy ran past us as we came in, we called out for Mr. Giles,” she answered, “When he didn't answer we decided to look in his office and that's...that's when we found him...tied... tied... to the... chair. We called the paramedics, and then you... he's going to be all right, isn't he?” she asked, tears forming in her eyes. ‘I should have gone out for the drama club,' Buffy thought to herself.
Sighing the officer replied, “It's too early to tell. Can you give me a better description than, ‘creepy looking?' You know... like how tall he was, what he was wearing, the color of his hair... anything?”
“No... not really. It happened so fast, he's just ‘creepy looking'... sorry.”
Closing his notebook, the police officer looked at the teenager. His gut was telling him that her story was just that... a story. It didn't feel right. ‘She's hiding something... the question is...why?' he told himself.
He had already questioned the librarian earlier. He couldn't tell him why he had been attacked. His statement concerning the two teenagers was the same: they just happened to come by and surprise his attacker.
“We'll need both of you to come over to the precinct later on to make a formal statement. Here's my card, in case you remember anything else,” he told her.
“Okay... Officer Reid,” Buffy replied, reading his name off the card he'd handed to her. “Would it be... could I ride in the ambulance with Mr. Giles? Please?”
“I don't see why not. All right Miss Summers, you and your boyfriend can go. I'll be in touch,” he said as he left Buffy and walked over to his partner.
“Well how did it go?” she asked Xander, when he finished.
“Told him the same thing... some guy ran out as we came in. He seemed to believe me, are you going to ride in the ambulance with Giles?” he asked, watching the paramedics push the stretcher thru the library.
“Yeah, I'll call Willow's parents from the hospital... and Xander the officer that interviewed me he seems to think... your my boyfriend.”
“What? You're kidding,” he looked back at Buffy. ‘No... she's not kidding,' he thought.
“So... we have to pretend for a while... at least until this is cleared up,” she told him.
“Hey... no problem. I'll live... honey,” he said, smiling.
“What's wrong... sweetie?” he told her as he hugged her. “Better get that surprised look off your face Buffy; we have an audience,” he whispered in her ear as he turned her around.
She could see Officer Reid and his partner looking their way, and quickly returned the hug.
“There's got to be something I can do,” he whispered. “I wanna... pound someone,” he told her.
“Xander... until I hear from Angel, there's not much we can do. Willow's going to be okay,” she told him, making a soothing motion on his back. He nodded.
“She'd better be... she'd better be.”
A few more minutes had passed before Buffy spoke up. “Xander?”
“Yeah,” he answered, somewhat dreamily. ‘I could get used to this,' he thought.
“You can let go... now!” she said, “They're not looking anymore.”
Xander slowly released his hold on Buffy, sighing.
They walked outside, the red and blue lights from the police cars illuminating the front of the high school. Giles had been loaded into the ambulance by the time Buffy and Xander had reached him.
Buffy stepped into the ambulance, the doors closing quickly behind her. Xander stepped back and watched them drive off.
“I'm here Willow.”
“Where are we?”
“Some place safe.”
“Why can't I see you?”
“Hold on... is that better?”
“Yes... Oh... Rupert, what did they do to you?” she cried out.
“Nothing much... nothing some rest won't take care of,” he replied. “How are you? Did... did they... hurt you at all?”
“No... I'm fine... scared mostly. I was so worried about you,” she told him.
“Willow, I'm sorry... I'm sorry I dragged you into this mess, that I couldn't protect you...” he turned away from her, ashamed.
“I don't blame you Rupert,” she told him. “I should have waited...”
“What a fine pair we make, don't you think? Both blaming ourselves...”
Giles took Willow into his arms, holding her tightly...
“Mr. Giles, can you hear me?”
“Who? I'm sorry Mr. Giles, but there's no one here by that name. Can you hear me?”
“Yes... I can hear you,” he answered despondently, once he grasped that he had been dreaming the conversation with Willow. “Where am I... and who are you?”
“Good, you were out for some time, you had us worried. My name is Jonas King, Doctor Jonas King. We're in the hospital's emergency department,” Dr. King responded.
“How long have I been here?” Giles asked.
“You were brought in about,” he consulted the chart. “About seven hours ago, at 19:30 hours, that's 7:30p.m., it's now 02:30 in the morning.”
‘Seven hours?' he thought.
“You've had a CAT Scan of your brain and orbits done. This is what I can tell you, the results on your brain are negative, which is good news. There's some swelling around your left orbital region, I had some x-rays taken. You don't have a fracture, but I'm recommending that we keep you here in the hospital over night and, that you have an MRI done in the morning, this way we'll know for sure.” Dr. King said as he watched his patient took in all the information very calmly. He wished he had more patients like this.
“I... see. What else?” Giles muttered.
“You have contusions running down your chest and rib area. The x-rays don't show any breaks so you'll just be sore for awhile...”
“Umm... excuse me... Dr. King, was it?”
“That's correct, what can I do for you Mr. Giles?” he responded.
“What about my wrist?”
“I was just getting to that. It isn't broken but you do have a break involving the radius and ulna... your forearm. Luckily, they were clean, we were able to set them, it does mean that you'll be in a cast for about six weeks,” he told him.
“I see... excuse me, but can you tell me did anyone come in with me? I don't seem to remember much after the paramedics put me on the stretcher,” he asked.
Dr. King looked through the admission face sheet, scanning until he found the information. “Yes... there is a Elizabeth Summers in the waiting room, would you like to see her?”
“No... not yet. In a moment, thank you,” Giles frowned as he sorted through all the information the doctor had given him. “Is that all... there's nothing else... wrong with me I mean?” he asked.
“Well, don't you think it's enough? I've spoken with the police officers... you are very fortunate that those two kids came along when they did Mr. Giles. Whoever did this... knew what they were doing... this wasn't some kind of senseless act.” Dr. King looked at his patient, wondering what he might have done to have provoked such a beating. “These injuries were delivered precisely, I've seen enough victims of random violence before I came to Sunnydale... this isn't what you'd see. They didn't want to kill you Mr. Giles, they wanted to hurt you. The blow, to the back of your head, wasn't meant to be fatal.” Dr. King told him. “Shall I get Miss Summers for you now?”
“Yes... please,” Giles responded.
Dr. King returned to the medical side of the emergency department, letting the nurse on duty know that the patient in M1 could have visitors. He ordered a few more tests, then went on to his next patient.
“Miss Summers?” the nurse asked in the waiting room.
“Yes,” Buffy replied.
“You can see your friend now, come this way,” the nurse said, watching the young woman rise from the chair and, followed her inside the department.
“How is he?” Buffy asked as walked behind the nurse, until they reached the area where they had Giles.
“He's stable. I really can't tell you anything else... hospital policy. You'll have to ask him... here you go,” the nurse gestured. “He's behind there.”
“Um... thanks,” Buffy walked over, taking the material in her hand, she slowly pulled the curtain to the side. “Giles?” she asked quietly.
Turning to face her, he watched as the look of shock appeared on Buffy's face. “That bad, huh?” he asked.
“Um... no, not really,” she replied, ‘Who am I trying to kid?' Taking a deep breath she asked, “So... uh... when do they spring you?”
Trying not to focus too intently on his face. The skin surrounding his left eye had taken on a dark purplish hue. It was swollen and, if she looked hard enough she could see blood where his vessels had been broken in his eye.
“I have to stay over night, the doctor recommended that I have an MRI in the morning, they want to rule out a fracture,” he shrugged. “Is... is there any word on Willow?” he asked hesitantly.
“Not yet, but Angel's following some leads, I'm sure we'll find her before Sunday. I... spoke with Willow's parents, told them that she was going to be staying at my house until then,” Buffy explained.
“Didn't they want to speak with her?” he replied.
“I told her mom that she was in the bathroom, I... I didn't know what else to do,” she said.
“We have to find her Buffy, it's imperative,” he said.
“Excuse me... Miss Summers?” The nurse waited until she had the teenagers' attention. “There is someone to see you... in the waiting room. He said his name was... Angel?”
“I'll be right there, thanks,” turning back to the Watcher. “Hang tight Giles.”
Walking back to the waiting room, Buffy went directly to Angel.
“What did you find out?” she asked.
“I found her...”
“Great! Where... where is she? Is she okay?” Buffy asked.
“I think so. She's being held across town... in some warehouse... What's the matter?” he asked, curious about the 360-degree turn Buffy's emotions had made.
“Where's the warehouse located?” she asked Angel, dreading the answer.
“It's on Delancy Street...”
“You didn't see a sign with a rocking horse on it?” Buffy asked. ‘Please say no,' she pleaded silently.
“Yeah... how did you know?” Angel answered, surprised.
He watched as Buffy started pacing, she was muttering to herself.
“Damn... damn... damn. It's never easy.”
“Buffy... stop, you're making me dizzy. What's wrong?” he had a feeling what she was about to tell him, but wanted to hear it anyway.
“Oh... nothing... except someone's got Willow... Giles is laid up in here...” she uttered, still pacing, back and forth.
“There's more to it than that... how did you know about the warehouse?” Angel asked.
Sighing, Buffy walked over to Angel, took him by the hand and led him to one of the chairs in the waiting room.
“Giles... Giles has set-up an obstacle course for me to go through...”
“Let me guess... the warehouse on Delancy?” he had thought as much.
“Yeah... but I don’t get it? How did they know about it?” Buffy thought out-loud.
“What do you wanna do?” Angel asked gently, putting his arm around her shoulders, bringing Buffy closer to him.
“I’ll have to let Giles know,” she began thankful for the support Angel was giving her. “He’s waiting for me... I’ve got to get in touch with Xander, he’d kill me if he found out I didn’t tell him about Willow, she said, biting her lower lip, her eyes darting back and forth trying to come up with a plan.
“Where is Xander anyway?” Angel asked, certain he’d be here offering Buffy a convenient shoulder to lean on.
“He was here earlier, but he had to get home. His mother wasn’t feeling well,” Buffy replied.
“Oh... Why don’t you give Giles the news? I’ll wait here we’ll go to Xander’s house afterward. Willow’s going to be okay... you’ve got to believe that, she’s strong,” Angel told Buffy.
“You’re right... she is,” Buffy kissed Angel briefly, “Thanks... for everything.” She stood up and made her way to the reception area. Buffy turned to Angel. “See you in a few.”
“Don’t worry... I’ll be here,” Angel replied. ‘If anything happens to Willow,’ he imagined various ways to deal with whoever had her and, they all involved pain... lots of pain. She had been one of few people living or dead he could call a true friend. She had proved it more than once regardless of the risks to her personal safety.
Buffy waited at the reception desk until the clerk received authorization from Giles’ nurse that it was “Okay” for him to see visitors. Buffy went straight to where Giles was. She paused for a brief moment before pulling the curtain aside once more.
“Well?” Giles asked as soon as he saw Buffy.
“He’s... Angel’s found her...”
“What’s wrong?” Giles asked. ‘Oh... God, let her be alive... please,’ he agonized.
“Giles, they’ve got her in the warehouse.”
“Warehouse? You don’t mean...?”
“That’s exactly what I mean...”
“How?” Giles asked, flabbergasted.
“That’s what I’d like to know. Does anyone else know about it besides us?” Buffy asked.
“Well... there’s the crew that built the course... and before you ask, they were approved by the Council. We couldn’t let just anyone work on it... too many questions would have been asked,” Giles supplied, making a motion to push his glasses up before he remembered he didn’t have them on.
“Alright,” Buffy replied, throwing her arms up in frustration. “So... how did they find it?”
“I’m not sure... but that’s not important. Willow’s safe return is,” he said.
“I know that... Angel and I are going to Xander’s,” Buffy said, watching as Giles nodded in agreement. “I’m going to get her, Giles.”
“Buffy, you can’t go into this lightly. We... we don’t have any idea what these people have planned. We don’t know where Willow’s being kept...”
“I’ll think of something, besides Angel’s going to be there...”
“What about Xander? If you tell him that you’ve found Willow, there’s nothing on this earth that will keep him away... short of death,” Giles said.
“There’s not much I can do. I can’t not tell him, he’s known Willow longer than any of us, he has the right to know,” she told him.
“You’re absolutely right... um... Buffy,” he began.
“There’s... there’s something you need to know.”
“Um... Dr. King... he suspects that my attack wasn’t random. And given the fact that there were five men...” he shrugged. “I believe this... um... this may be a trap. If they’re at the warehouse, it could mean that they’re expecting you.”
“You think?“ she said sarcastically. “You know Giles?” she shook her head, “This is giving me major wiggins.”
“Trust your instincts Buffy, I do... it may not seem as if I do... but,” he cleared his throat, “There’s no one else I rather have going after Willow... um... than you.”
“Thanks Giles. That’s means a lot. Ah... well, I guess I better get going,” Buffy placed her hand on his, “I’ll bring Willow by bright and early... I’ll see you soon, bye.” She released his hand and left him alone to contemplate his thoughts.