SUMMARY: Sequel to Seal of Fate. Giles fights to settle into a normal life after his "treatment" in Redhill Insane Asylum.
The first weeks after Giles' release were the worst. They were living in a seedy area of London where it was dangerous to walk abroad at night. It didn't help that Willow was convinced they were being watched.
Willow had to find herself a job. That meant she had to spend a lot of time away from Giles. He was fine when he had Willow near him but at night, alone in their separate beds, she heard his cries as the nightmares tortured his mind.
He dreamed that he was still in hospital, that Willow had not been in time to rescue him. He saw himself old and broken, vegetating under the shade of his beloved Willow tree. He always woke with a wild scream and the inability to utter a coherent sound, his mind blank once more. Gradually, during daylight, with much coaching from Willow, his speech would improve, becoming lucid by bedtime.
Willow didn't sleep until he slept, in case he should need her.
"Willow, Willow?" His singsong voice woke her gently. She sat up and saw him holding a tray for her. She blinked up at him. He was still in his pyjamas, looking alert and refreshed. 'No nightmare last night', she thought, gratefully.
"Morning. Oh, breakfast," she said, glancing at the clock. It was only half-past four, "and so early." she smiled. 'Never mind.' She thought.
"Job interview today," he said almost conversationally.
"Yes, only round the corner, Rupert. Will you be all right?"
He nodded and poured her some tea. "Willow, do you think that I'm better?" He asked.
"Yes, Rupert. You're getting there. I'm proud of you."
His gentle smile reminded her of his progress. She didn't mind the hour, that smile made everything right.
With breakfast finished, he cleared the tray whilst she showered and dressed for her interview. Willow checked on him before she left. He was in bed, lying half out of his covers. Breakfast had worn him out. She kissed his temple and propped her picture against the lamp, so he could see her when he woke. She would be gone for half an hour at the most.
Her footfalls had no sooner ceased to echo in the hall, than four men raced up the stairs to their flat. The same four men that had taken Giles from Sunnydale, the day Buffy died. An athletic looking Rastafarian, who occupied the floor below, followed them silently, moving with feline stealth. He had been charged with a sacred duty to protect the Watcher and his Witch.
Giles woke with a start. Someone dragged him from his bed clamping a hand over his mouth to prevent him crying out. He was hauled to the bathroom struggling violently, his eyes wild with fear. The bath was full, the cold tap still running. He winced as an unknown needle rendered him numb and he toppled into the tub. The icy water revived him and his arms instinctively shot upwards. He yelled under-water as a knife slashed his wrists, the water turning red. He surged to the surface to take a giant breath; he tried to shout but was forcibly submerged once more. He held his breath and used both fists to hammer on the side of the bath to attract some attention but he was weakening. He opened his eyes and saw through the blood-filtered water the terrible sight of an unleashed Gorgon.
The lashing, flailing snakes and its petrifying gaze turned Giles' assailants to crumbling pumice. The monsters eyes closed as he replaced his mirror shades. He covered the pleasant hissing purr of the snakes adorning his head with his hat and reached down to heave Giles out of the pool of blood.
As Giles spluttered and sucked in air, the Gorgon bound his wrists with hand towels to staunch the flow of blood. Giles had just got his breath back when Willow charged in.
"Giles?!" Her scream hurt her ears in the small room. The stranger steadily met her accusing glare.
"Willow, he helped..." Giles gasped.
"Mistress, get some bandages please." She was momentarily spellbound by his melodious voice.
"Willow?" Giles questioned. She sped off.
Giles' lips were blue. He was sinking into shock. The Gorgon lifted him from the tub and wrapped him in towels, rubbing him vigorously to warm his cold limbs and body. Willow arrived with the bandages but was unprepared for the dark stranger's exit from the bathroom, holding Giles effortlessly in his arms.
He put Giles on his bed and stripped off his damp things, then covered him snugly. He bandaged the right wrist while Willow did the left.
"Who are you?" Giles asked. His colour had returned though he could hardly keep his eyes open.
"I have no name. I was sent to protect you. Sleep now, one who watches." Giles' eyes closed instantly. Willow tried to look deep into the strangers' eyes but saw only herself reflected in the glasses.
"How did you stop them?" Willow murmured, aware of Giles' peaceful sleep.
"My gaze is sudden death to those of impure heart or ill intent. I am descended from she who battled Perseus. My countenance is such that it turns flesh to flint. I am cursed with a siren's voice that lures my victims to their doom. Mistress, do not ask me before we part to look upon my unguarded eyes. He needs you vital and warm. I will take my leave now..."
Willow lay awake, listening to Giles' breathing. All her fears were being realised. Would The Watchers send someone else to try to kill Giles? They had nearly succeeded, if Gorgon hadn't come to his rescue... she turned over, it didn't bare thinking about!
She felt so helpless and alone. She swiped at her tears. She must be strong for him. Sniffing in the darkness, she turned again and saw his eyes glistening softly.
"Willow, don't weep. We'll be all right ...." Giles' voice sounded almost normal, his sentences slowly lengthening. He held out his hand in the darkness and she took it in hers. Her fingers brushed the bandage at his wrist and she felt his fingers tighten.
"Sorry, I'm sorry I wasn't here Rupert." She sobbed.
"Shh, Willow. They would have hurt you, it wasn't my time ... and we have our Protector downstairs, though he doesn't tidy up after himself," Giles saw her questioning look. "There's a ton of breeze block in the bathroom!" He smiled, sighing as he heard her laughter. He had missed her; all the things he had missed colours, sounds, tastes, warmth, and sun, were linked to this extraordinary woman whom, he was fairly sure, would have seen off his attackers. Gorgon intervention or no, Willow would have found a way!
"Rupert, may I share your bed tonight?" she asked. Her hand was empty. She sighed. She had her answer, 'too soon.'
"Willow, I can't... yet." He turned on his back, staring up at the cracked ceiling. His eyes watered, unblinking. "I might still hurt you. Until I can be sure... Willow?" He turned his head, reaching out with his hand once more, he encountered her finger-tips.
"OK, Rupert. Goodnight. Get some sleep." She was careful this time to be quiet as she cried herself to sleep.
Gorgon slept leadenly on a mattress on the floor. A backpack at its foot was the only other thing in his room. He needed little. A scurrying sound in the corner snapped his eyes open in the direction of the sound. The scurrying stopped abruptly, a smile played briefly on his lips, to be replaced by an expression of regret. 'Even mice are not safe from my gaze.' He thought, but his head of serpents demanded their meat, however meagre. He himself did not eat, gleaning all that he required from his colony's voracious appetite.
He knew that soon the serpents would demand more of his body. He needed a mate, one that could withstand his marble glare. He turned his head carefully so as not to disturb his slumbering symbiots. She only had to look for the blink of an eye. He was death in the blink of an eye! His sigh rumbled from his chest, stirring the rock that was once a mouse.
"Rupert, breakfast!" Willow called. He came to the table with a bed sheet wrapped about him like a toga. She smiled.
"Peel you a grape, my Lord?" Rupert gave her a lop-sided smile. She poured his tea, putting the teapot down with a thump as the doorbell rang. Willow grabbed a knife from the table but Giles stayed her hand.
"Willow, you going to butter them to death?" She looked down at the blunt knife gripped in her fist. "Assassins don't ring doorbells." He supped his tea calmly. She replaced the knife and went to see who their visitor was.
"Gorgon," she smiled. "Come in, we're just having breakfast. Would you like some tea?"
The monsters heart leapt when he saw her. She was so gentle, so delicate, like a flower. He followed her into the living/dining area.
"Rupert, it's Gorgon." Willow smiled happily. Gorgon sat down and accepted the tea she offered him. As she poured she noticed that there was a stray serpent peeping from Gorgon's hat. She lifted the band and tucked the juvenile reptile into the warm confines of the hat. Gorgon gasped with obvious pleasure.
"Willow!" Giles bellowed. "Don't, venom!" He held his head at the sudden pain. A bright light spiked into his brain, highlighting volumes of memory, turning pages of references until he got to the cure for Gorgon venom.
"Rupert!" cried Willow in alarm. He looked as though he were in a trance, muttering under his breath. Gorgon's hand on his arm roused him and he looked into the blessed creatures reflective glasses.
"I remember..." He smiled a child's smile of wonder. "All of it so clearly... Willow the cobwebs are gone. It's wonderful! We've got to get to the museum. My books and belongings are there. That's where the Watchers sent them. I think the answer to who killed Buffy is there too Gorgon, will you come with us?"
"Yes, of course. Mistress Willow, it is not wise to touch my head. The venom of the serpents I harbour is poisonous. I would not want to harm such a delicate bloom in any way..."
Giles chuckled. "Delicate bloom? Snap-dragon more like. She was ready to eviscerate you with a butter knife!" Willow blushed as both Gorgon and Giles laughed.
They exited South Kensington station and followed Giles to the staff entrance. He smiled at the guard behind the grill. He was an old man, but when Giles first knew him he was in his forties.
"Hello George, long time. Could you let me and my friends in to check on something?" The guard opened the door, muttering that he really shouldn't but it wasn't like Mr. Giles would blow anything up...
Once inside, Giles weaved his unerring way through the complex warren of corridors until he got to the internal stairs.
"Now, we climb. Several people have needed oxygen at this point. You OK, Gorgon?" The Gorgon threw an old fashioned look at the Watcher.
The climb was interminable. Rupert reached down to help Willow up the last of the steps. Her body pressed against his outside the small door of his office, their breathing heavy in the enclosed space. Gorgon waited patiently behind them, hearing the lovers' hearts soar. Giles let go of her reluctantly and opened the door of his office.
"Watcher!" Gorgon barked. Whipping off his glasses, he rushed past them to cleanse the room of any threat. Willow was pinned once more to Giles chest. She freed herself this time and stepped into the room to see Gorgon's eyes close. He groped for his fallen mirror shades. She bent to retrieve them for him. He had opened his eyes to aid him in his search. Willow gave them to him, he held his head gear in one hand. She looked up. The serpents on his head writhed amongst the bronze corkscrew curls of his hair. He lowered his eyes as he took his shades from her and saw her smile.
"Willow? Giles sounded worried. "Willow!
"You're beautiful..." Willow gasped. "Myth's say Gorgons were ugly..."
The Gorgon turned away to capture his snakes. His mind rejoicing. She is the one, I have found her!
"Willow? Willow! Are you all right?" Gorgon's expression darkened. One stood in his way. One that he had sworn to protect. The other that shared the mark of Eyghon had said he had the power to destroy him if he wavered in his duty.
"Its OK, Rupert a few mice and pigeons that's all. God its a mess!" She didn't want to move from where she stood in case she stepped in something nasty .
Rupert stepped round her and collected some keys from a board, he shared them between Gorgon and Willow.
"Start opening stuff, everything!"
"Righto Ripper..." Willow smiled.
Gorgon shook his head, mystified. He went to the nearest file cabinet and tried his keys. After three hours search they had a satisfactory pile of papers and books in the middle of the desk. Rupert found a bag to put them in. He lifted it and promptly dropped it, holding his wrists in pain.
"They're bleeding?" Willow asked, Rupert nodded he looked ghastly pale. Gorgon reached for the bag.
"Come, before our pillage is discovered."
Rupert stumbled down the last of the steps, his bandages were blood-soaked.
"We need a physician." Gorgon looked at Willow intently, then back to Rupert who rested his back against the cool wall of the basement. The room echoed with his ragged shallow breaths, he shook his head wearily, uttering one word. "Venom."
Gorgon took a step backwards. "No. It would cure or kill." Willow gripped the monsters hand, looking down her pleading soul touched his.
"Close your eyes Watcher." Giles' eyes shut tight as Gorgon knelt to undo his bandages. The creature removed the serpent's covering and waited for them to strike at the now open wounds. Willow looked away. Gorgon, his head covered once more held Rupert's wrists together, smearing the poison until the wounds healed. "Open your eyes ..."
"Thank you." He showed his wrists to Willow. "Look. All gone..." She turned on Gorgon.
"Why didn't you do that straight away?" She accused.
"Willow," Giles interrupted, sensing the Gorgon's dismay. "Its a last resort. C'mon, home. We have research..."
Willow gazed at him lovingly, his glasses on; his nose in a book and munching an apple he looked like the Giles of old. Gorgon watched her watch him. He closed his book quietly.
"Mistress Willow found something other than a book." Willow blushed as Rupert glanced up, he swallowed his apple.
"Really, may I see?" Willow handed him the velvet box hesitantly. Giles put his book down and opened the box. He stared at the 'seal' charm, becoming nauseous. He snapped the lid shut.
"Where did you get this?" Willow's stomach flipped at the coldness of his voice.
"It was locked in a desk drawer in your office... I'm sorry, shouldn't I have taken it?"
Giles stroked his thumb over the velvet lid, the name embroidered on the top was slightly rough to his touch. He put it down on the table.
"I was going to give it to.... It was a present, for her Birthday." His head slumped forward on his folded arms he was lost in sorrow again.
Gorgon touched the box, tracing the name of the jeweler, embroidered in gold. "Sebastian." He murmured. "Sebastian is the name, the sorcerer said you would know, Watcher."
Rupert's head jerked up. He grabbed the box and reread the name. The name was familiar to him, he closed his eyes picturing the Jeweller's in his mind, looking up at the sign. "Claude Sebastian" His fist closed round the box.
"I know who that is!" Willow exclaimed. "It was in Ethan's mail.." Willow searched through the folio section of her lap top case.She passed the printouts to Rupert who read them with growing anxiety.
"Claude Sebastian is a respected member of the Watcher's Council. It seems he's descended from a relative of Marie Sebastian the vampire who had Buffy killed." Giles swallowed the lump that came to his throat when he said her name. "Why does he want me dead?"
Willow held herself still and erect, perhaps it was time to tell Rupert what she, Angel and Spike had done to Mary Sebastian.
"I have something to tell you, Rupert, you won't like it..." She told him about finding Buffy, Angel calling the Bloodfast, how he and Spike had helped her to trap and torture Mary at the mansion. She told how Xander had tried to dissuade her but she disregarded his concerns and went ahead. She described in detail the progression of the torture and ended her account with her own shameful abuse of her Witch-power for evil.
Gorgon's gaze revealed nothing of his inner turmoil. Giles looked both horrified and saddened. He couldn't meet her eyes.
Gorgon looked deep into Willow's eyes, his own filled with wonder, so much fury had been unleashed and then contained within so delicate a vessel. Still her spirit was pure untainted by this act of vengeance. She was indeed a perfect mate.
"Willow, it wasn't your job. I should have been there. She was my Slayer..."
"She was my friend!" Willow's retort caught Rupert off guard. "If you had just said something to her everyone could have helped. You always shared your dreams before, why not then?" Willow's hateful stare bored into his soul rendering him numb. She sank down on her chair, all the fight gone from her. Gorgon felt ill as ease between them.
Giles stared at the table for a long time, trying to make up his mind about something, he glanced at Willow with bright eyes and started to speak, his voice barely audible.
"I had the dream for eight weeks, two or three times a night, sometimes. I could hear her thoughts, hear the echoes of her life. I lived her death in my dreams; I knew every detail. The way she would be dressed, everything. If I had said anything to you about it, you would have sent me away with the men in white coats and Buf... She would still have died. I had to try to keep her alive until the very end. Willow, you making me sleep lessened the torment of that ending. Thank you, but you shouldn't have endangered yourself trying to slay a vampire whose sole purpose was to be slain. You see," He gazed into her emerald eyes. "I knew the one who loved me most would find me, the one I loved the most, you Willow. I knew you would rescue me."
Willow landed in his lap, he stroked her hair and swept her tears away tenderly. She smiled as his lips met hers, sharing gentle, easy kisses. Gorgon stared at them his serpents reared and hissed.
Gorgon's muscles rippled beneath his skin as he dragged another bag of Watcher remains down the stairs to the skip they had hired. Willow swept the bathroom clear of the dust and mopped it. Giles sat at the dining table nursing a mug of tea. He'd withdrawn again after confessing his love for her and telling her about his nightmares. Gorgon had suggested a herbal bath for him, that's why they were clearing the room.
She caught her breath when the bathroom door closed.. She turned to look at Gorgon, her nostrils flaring as she picked up his male scent, she studied his chest glossy with sweat, the bronze curls peppering his pectorals and descending into his jeans, almost like an arrow pointing to the object of her desire. He smiled and took a step toward her, she stepped back.
"Mistress, you have looked into my eyes and survived. I wish to ask a favour of you." Willow swallowed and tried to relax. Nothing would happen... This is Gorgon, sent to protect you. Giles is just next door...
"What is it ?" She whispered. 'Look in his eyes damn it!' He took another pace toward her caressing her arms with his long fingers.
"I wish, need to have. That is, my serpents require a mate." He murmured.
"What?!!" Willow exclaimed. She looked at the door beginning to panic.
"I would not ask, but my serpents need to have an issue within the year. If I do not find a mate who is able to look upon me without fear as you have done, I will perish; my species will become extinct. No harm will come to you. I could never harm you. You need only supply me with an egg. I will carry the child."
Willow found her eyes lingering below his waist, there was definitely something down there, how would Gorgon carry the child? He lifted her chin. She looked up at him. His eyes were closed and the serpents writhed amongst his dread locks. He was so beautiful. His arms encircled her waist, lifting her up to his kiss, Willow gently tangled her fingers in the warmth of the serpents nest. He moaned into her mouth, his forked tongue flicking quickly over hers, tasting her, Willow squirmed away from him, remembering to keep her eyes shut.
"Forgive me, I presume too much. The will of my serpents increases as I mature. In a year I will no longer be able to live in the world of men." He concluded sadly, a tear ran down his cheek. Willow's heart cracked. The knock at the door reminded them of their purpose, Gorgon spun the hot water tap to fill the bath. The bag of herbs hung under the water filling the room with its pungent healing aroma.
Willow opened the door. She smiled at Rupert; he didn't smile back. Oh no! He overheard us! Giles' stare was enough to petrify, Gorgon lowered his gaze and left the room. Giles kicked the door shut with his foot and locked it, trapping Willow in the bathroom with him. He seized her arms and shoved her against the wall his eyes aflame.
"Do you know how they mate?" His harsh voice grated in the small room. "A serpent detaches itself from his head and travels down your body, leaving a thick mucous trail on your skin." He ran lascivious fingers over her breasts ending between her legs.
"Accounts say some of the serpents are as thick as a man's wrist." His voice assumed a matter of fact tone. Willow shut her eyes. This wasn't Rupert; this was the man in the asylum, the mindless one. Her Rupert would come back... Please come back Rupert, she prayed. Tears coursed down her face as his fingers trailed up to grip her chin in his large hand. He leered at her, pressing himself as close as he was able.
"Frightened, little one? You should be ..." his voice had lost it's dangerous edge, his fingers gentled as he covered her mouth with his.
Suddenly Rupert was away from her and the bathroom door swung freely on one hinge. Gorgon stood in the room ready to fix him with his granite glare. With no thought of the danger that he had just warned Willow about, Rupert launched himself at the supernatural being. Gorgon was surprised, no-one had ever attacked him. His defences were lethal. It made a welcome change to fight with fists, but because none had fought him, he was ill prepared for the ferocity of Ripper's attack. His serpents hissed their enjoyment of the sport. Gorgon shook his dreadlocks free and fought back. He still wore his shades, he couldn't kill this man but he could fight him, fight him he did. The struggle was brief but violent with Ripper losing in spectacular fashion. He was picked up and thrown against the side of the bath, Gorgon snatched his shades from his eyes and glared at a spot near the Watcher's foot.
"No!" Willow screeched as she saw Rupert's foot jerk back fearfully, all malice gone from his face.
Rupert turned to glare at Gorgon the two males regarded each other, neither backing down. Like stags fighting over the same mate. Willow was shocked by the fury that had temporarily marred Gorgon's features. He turned on his heel, Willow felt his finger tips brush her hand briefly.
"Forgive me, Mistress Willow. I overstepped the bounds of my duty." She lifted her eyes to his terrible countenance now mercifully in repose.
She murmured her thanks to Gorgon. Then approached Rupert tentatively reaching out to him. He launched himself at her, crushing the breath from her body. She stroked his hair and remained kneeling by him until he had calmed enough to disrobe and step into the bath. He leaned back and sighed, breathing in the richly scented steam a contented smile on his face. She smiled too. 'He's back' she rejoiced. Now she knew why he had made no move to love her; he had rages to work out before they could truly be together. She winced as she reached for the bar of soap. Her arm hurt where he had gripped her, where she still bore his finger marks on her skin.
"Willow, forgive me. I was angry and jealous I didn't know how else to react. Willow, Gorgon could kill you." He grasped her hand, while gazing into her clear green eyes. "You are easy to love Willow, you give affection so readily and he has a gentle spirit. Please, be careful ..." To all this she just nodded. Slowly as he gazed at her, she undressed and slipped into the water facing him. She washed his chest and wondered at his moans and gasps as he grew more aroused, suddenly stopping her hand's descent.
"Willow don't..." He swallowed and shut his eyes as her hand closed round him, washing him gently. Then her hands left him and she gave him the soap.
"Wash me Rupert." She instructed. He took the wash cloth and soap and gently soaped her body. He lifted her arms and she smiled when he tickled her playfully. Then he ran his fingers over her feet and she exploded with giggles. He laughed with her when she discovered his ticklish spots, his ribs, knees and collar bone. He was helpless with laughter by the end of their bath.
Gorgon stood guard outside, his heart sinking as their mirth grew. He was losing hope, having found her only to lose her to the man he had been sent to protect. He truly was the most unfortunate of the creator's beasts.
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