TITLE : "Ethan's Price"
AUTHOR : Gibberish
DISCLAIMER : Oh please let me have them Joss. Amen
RATING: PG-13, just to be safe.
SUMMARY: Giles is taken, Buffy needs help to find him. Guess who? What will
it cost her?
DISTRIBUTION: Solo. Anyone else, just ask.
FEEDBACK: Yes, please be kind.
COMMENTS: Giles is really not the "main" character, but he is the "main" focus.
Buffy had seen it happen, but she still didn't quite comprehend it. One minute, Giles had been there. The next, he was gone in a swirl of smoke and light. That was three days ago. Almost four.
Willow had called it a transportation spell, but she didn't know how to reverse it. Giles had never let her near anything like that. It was dangerous.
Who had taken him? Why? Not even Willy knew anything, even rumors. When it came to magic, Buffy didn't even know what to look for. So, she sent for someone that did.
She met him where they had first met. A deserted store that used to be a costume shop. Buffy heard the door open and turned to face him. "Ethan."
"Hello Precious." Ethan said. "Miss me?"
"Not particularly." Buffy answered.
"Now, now Precious." Ethan chided. "You sent for me. Remember? Now, I have to wonder; what could have induced that? It must be nothing less than the end of the world."
"Someone took Giles." Buffy told him.
Ethan's eyes narrowed. "Ripper? Why? And why call me?"
"I don't know who took him." Buffy said. "I don't even know why. But they used magic, big magic."
"That still doesn't explain why you called me." Ethan said. "Your little red haired friend is a witch."
"Willow isn't up to this." Buffy explained. "I need your help Ethan." She hated the desperation in her voice, but this was Giles. "I have to find him. I have to get him back."
Ethan wondered if she realized how much she had just given away. "He won't thank you for calling me." He pointed out.
"I'll do anything I have to to get him back." Buffy said with conviction.
"Anything?" Ethan asked silkily.
"Anything." Buffy responded with a wary look.
"Then, I'll help you." Ethan told her. "On one condition."
Buffy narrowed her eyes. "What do you want?"
"You." Ethan said bluntly, his eyes caressed her.
Buffy blinked. "What?"
"One night with you." Ethan practically purred. "In exchange, I'll help you find Ripper."
Buffy stared at him. Did he mean ... "Sex?" Her voice squeaked.
"Oh, at least." Ethan responded. He let his eyes travel over her again. "Just how bad do you want the old man back?" He asked.
Buffy's eyes flashed. She would do anything for Giles. Ethan was her only chance. "All right." Buffy finally said. Ethan's surprise was obvious.
"But only if we get him back alive." She stipulated.
Ethan recovered quickly. "Agreed." Did Ripper know how much she loved him?
Buffy took him to where Giles had disappeared, the cemetery. "Charming." Ethan said drolly as he looked about. He moved to the spot that Buffy had pointed to. He crouched down and touched the ground.
Buffy watched him. He closed his eyes and spoke words that she didn't understand. The wind picked up and smoke swirled. There was someone in the smoke. "Giles?" She saw him say her name, but she couldn't hear him. She reached out a hand, but he faded. "No! Giles?" He was gone. She looked at Ethan, just as he fell to the ground. "Ethan?" She went over to him.
Ethan looked up at her. "Concern for me, Precious? I'm touched."
Buffy was about to retort, when she saw how pale he was. She reached out a hand to help him up. She reminded herself that this was for Giles.
Ethan took her hand and levered himself up. "Thank you Precious."
"Would you stop calling me that?" Buffy asked, exasperated.
Ethan smiled wickedly, but didn't respond.
"Was that really Giles?" She asked in a small voice.
"He's alive at any rate." Ethan told her. "Now all we have to do, is follow the trail of magic."
"How do we do that?" Buffy asked.
"Leave that to me." Ethan said.
They left the cemetery and went east. They ended up at Angel's old place, the Mansion. "The trail lead here, but I don't think that he's in there." Ethan said.
Buffy looked at him. "Why not?" She asked.
"Doesn't feel right." Ethan explained. "It feels empty. They may have been here, but they aren't now."
"We should look around, see if they left anything." Buffy said.
"Ladies first." Ethan told her. He watched her intently as he followed her inside. He saw her bend down in front of a pair of shackles attached to the wall. She picked something up.
"His glasses." Buffy said softly as she looked at them. "His new ones. He's only had them about a week."
Ethan considered his next question very carefully before he asked it. "Are you in love with Ripper?" Her eyes shot to his and he saw the answer before she could hide it. That did complicate things, didn't it?
"Where to now?" Buffy asked as she made her way back outside.
They kept moving east. Next, was an abandoned building. There, Buffy found Giles' watch. "Is Giles leaving a trail? Or are they?" Buffy asked.
Ethan couldn't be certain. They had to stop for the night.
They picked up the next day at an old farmhouse. Buffy found Giles' ring. Ethan watched her put the ring on her right index finger. That was going to hurt someone. Then, something occurred to him. "You went straight to it."
"What?" Buffy asked confused.
"As if you knew where they were." Ethan said. "The glasses, the watch and now the ring. You went right to them. How?"
"I I don't know." Buffy told him, her eyes wide.
"Think Buffy." Ethan told her. "It could be very important." She looked at him, unable to answer. "Look inside your mind. Can you feel him?" he should have thought of that. Just how close were she and Ripper?
"What do you mean?" Buffy asked shakily.
Ethan walked over to her. He took her right hand and put his over Giles' ring. "Close your eyes and focus." He instructed. "Think of Ripper." His voice was hypnotic. She closed her eyes, and he did the same. "Only of Ripper. Push everything else out of your mind. Reach out to him. Call to him. Concentrate on Ripper. See only him. Feel only him."
"I see him." Buffy whispered.
"What do you see?" Ethan asked in the same hypnotic tone.
"A room. It's dim." Buffy said. "Giles is leaning against the wall. He looks angry. And worried."
"I imagine so." Ethan commented.
"There's a small window." Buffy continued. "It's above Giles. It seems to be the only light in the room."
"Open all of your senses now." Ethan instructed again. "What do you hear? What do you smell?"
Giles' cell was a ten by ten room. He'd already examined it as best he could in the dim light. The small window was the room's only light and the sun never came directly through it, so the light was never very good.
Since he'd had no visitors since he'd been thrown in here, he had to assume that he'd been left here to die. No food, no water for four days. Who had done this? Why? What were they doing to Buffy?
He'd thought he'd seen her yesterday. Hallucinations. He admitted though, that they could have been much worse. If he was going to hallucinate, at least his mind had chosen well. Buffy. He'd fixated on her while he'd been here. Thoughts of her gave him a reason to hold on just a little longer. Hold on to his life, and his sanity. She would find him. He had to believe that.
He looked up from where he sat on the floor. There she was again. She stood before him. She looked like a ghost. Or an angel. "Hello Buffy." He said to the hallucination calmly. He still knew it was a hallucination, so he wasn't mad yet.
"I'll get you out." His beautiful Buffy said to him. "I'll find you."
"I know you will Luv." He responded. He had to tell her, real or not. He might not get another chance. "I love you Buffy."
"I love you too."
Buffy opened her eyes and looked at Ethan. She was unaware of the tears that coursed down her cheeks.
Ethan just stared at her. "What happened?" He asked gently.
"I think he's giving up." Buffy said, heartbroken. She looked up at Ethan with tear bright eyes. "He saw me Ethan."
"Saw you?" Ethan returned. "He couldn't have seen you. You weren't really there."
"He saw me." Buffy repeated with conviction. "He knew I was there. He spoke to me."
"Spoke ... What did he say?" Ethan asked. This was extraordinary.
Buffy wouldn't, couldn't tell him. "I felt things from him. Ethan, they left him there to die."
Suddenly, Ethan was holding a crying Buffy in his arms. He couldn't believe it. She was always so strong. Her words sank in, she'd felt him. She had touched his mind.
Buffy was embarrassed by falling apart in front of Ethan. On Ethan. But it had been too much. Four days of hell had finally caught up to her. Ethan hadn't mentioned it. He just started asking her questions once she had calmed down. What did she see? What did she hear? What did she smell? What did she feel?
They had it narrowed to an area now. The old abandoned warehouses, outside of town. Narrowed to six huge buildings that were falling down. They were so dangerous that the punks and homeless didn't even go in them.
But she and Ethan went in them and searched them top to bottom. In the fourth one, Buffy found Giles' handkerchief. She knew it was his, it smelled like him. Like all the others, she went right to it.
"Open up to him Buffy." Ethan told her. "Let him bring you to him. He'll lead you, if you'll let him."
Buffy moved as if she were in a trance. Finally, they came to a reinforced door. Buffy's eyes narrowed. She summoned all her strength, all her anger and fear, and with a running kick, the door fell.
Giles sat on the floor, to weak to stand. He looked up with wide, unfocused eyes. "Knew you'd come." His words slurred a little. "Knew my Buffy wouldn't let me die."
Buffy moved to help Giles to his feet. "Help me Eth ..." Ethan was gone.
Buffy hated hospitals, but she'd by Giles' side since they brought him in. Buffy had gotten Giles out of the warehouse to find paramedics waiting.
She'd held on to his hand in the ambulance. They tried to keep her out of the Emergency Room, but she refused to leave, so they worked around her.
Now she clutched his hand as she sat next to his bed. Every so often his eyes fluttered open and he smiled at her. "My Buffy." He said, every time.
His other arm had an IV attached, fluids and nutrients. He'd been dehydrated.
Buffy heard a noise at the door and looked up. Willow and Oz came in quietly. "Hey. What are you guys doin' here?"
"Your Mom called. Told us what happened." Willow said softly.
"I should have called." Buffy said tiredly. "I didn't think ..."
"It's okay." Willow told her. She pulled an envelope out of her pocket. "Your Mom asked me to give you this. She said she found it attached to the door when she got home." She handed it to Buffy.
Buffy took it. it had her name on it. She wouldn't let go of Giles, so she opened it awkwardly with one hand. She read the short message. <Payment is due. Tonight. Where something easily removed.> Buffy's eyes narrowed. His hotel and room number were also written there. "Thanks Will." She felt dirty already. Buffy looked at Giles. He was safe now, that's all that mattered. She threw the note in the garbage.
"What is it?" Willow asked.
"Ethan reminding me that I owe him." Buffy said absently.
"Owe him?" Oz asked.
"He helped me find Giles. Now I have to ..." Buffy caught herself and looked away. "Help him with something."
"What?" Oz asked next.
"Just something." Buffy told him. "Can you stay with Giles? I don't know how long I'll be and I don't want Giles to wake up alone. "
"Sure Buff." Willow said.
Buffy stood, she leaned down to kiss Giles on his cheek and whisper in his ear. "I love you Giles." Giles smiled in return. "Thanks guys." She said as she left.
Willow and Oz exchanged a look after the departure of their friend. "I don't like the sound of that." Oz commented.
Buffy went home. She snuck in her window and changed in to a simple dress. Black, it seemed appropriate. She grabbed a pair of black heels and her weapons bag, put on a jacket and snuck back out the window. Dress and all.
She made her way to the hotel, classy. Ethan liked to stay in style. She'd seen the hotel before, at least from the outside. Inside, it was ... Beautiful.
She practically gawked as she made her way to the elevators. She took in as much as she could on her way to Ethan's room.
"You look lovely." Ethan said when he opened the door. She walked past him and he closed the door.
It was a suite. The table set, dinner for two, complete with candles and wine.
Ethan followed her gaze. "I knew you wouldn't have eaten. How is Ripper?"
"Fine." Buffy told him. "At least, he will be. Exhaustion and dehydration mainly. A few bruises."
Ethan lead her to the table and held out her chair. Buffy sat down warily. "Are you trying to charm me?"
"Trying? You mean, I'm not?" Ethan returned as he took his own seat. He poured her a glass of wine, then himself.
Buffy took a careful sip. "I assure you, it's just wine." Ethan said wryly and with a smile.
"I'm not legal, you know." Buffy pointed out. She contemplated getting a little drunk. It make this night easier.
Ethan regarded her with humor filled eyes. "Close your eyes and think of England."
Buffy blinked. "Huh?"
He smiled. "Something that noble ladies were told in reference to their wedding nights. They were taught that sex was not an activity that a lady would or should enjoy. It was required, however, to produce an heir."
Buffy just looked at him. "Are you making that up?"
Ethan laughed. "No." He assured her.
"I've never seen England." Buffy commented.
"Would you like to?" Ethan asked. He took the covers off the dinner plates. "I hope you like lobster."
"I haven't had it in years." Buffy said. "Not since we left LA." She brought herself back from her memories. "Tell me about England."
"So you can think about it when the time comes?" Ethan asked wickedly. Then, he became thoughtful. "I didn't see much of England until after I had left for a while. It many ways, it's like any other country. It has it's beautiful places and it's ugly places. London is both. I miss London. You can feel it's history."
"Why do you leave then?" Buffy asked.
"It hasn't felt like home in a long time."
Giles awoke slowly. He felt the small hand in his and smiled. "Buffy."
"No, Willow." Willow told him. "And Oz."
Giles opened his eyes. It was indeed Willow and Oz. "Where am I? Where's Buffy?"
"You're in the hospital." Willow responded. "Buffy should be back soon."
"Where is she?" Giles asked again.
Willow wasn't sure that she should tell him. On the other hand, she couldn't lie to him. So she said nothing.
Giles' eyes pierced hers. "Willow? Buffy ... She wasn't hurt?"
"No." Willow assured him.
"Then, what is it?" Giles asked.
Willow looked at Oz. "She said something about owing Ethan." Oz told him.
"Owing Ethan?" Giles echoed. "Ethan Rayne? Whatever for?"
"He helped her find you." Willow said.
"Why?" Giles asked.
Neither Willow nor Oz could answer.
"What could Ethan possibly want from Buffy?" Giles asked himself aloud. Then, he knew. His eyes widened in horror, only to narrow in fury. "I'll kill him." He growled. he looked at Willow and Oz. "Did she say where she was going?" They both shook their heads. "Damn!"
Oz went over and took something out of the garbage. He handed it to Giles. "The message Ethan sent."
Giles opened it and tried to read it. However, without his glasses and the fact that he was still a bit woozy, prevented him from doing so. He handed it back to Oz. "I can't make out the words."
Oz looked at it and read, ""Payment is due. To night. Where something easily ..."" He looked at Giles, the older man's face had paled. ""...Something easily removed.""
"Oh my God." Willow exclaimed. "He wouldn't ..."
"He would." Giles said flatly, coldly.
"His hotel and room number are here." Oz told him.
Giles looked at Oz, fear and rage fought for dominance in his eyes. "Get me out of here."
Ethan regaled Buffy with stories of England. Some of the stories involved Ripper. He watched her as she listened. She was quite lovely, but he knew that already. She had so much fire, so much passion and he wanted to taste it. He also knew that he wouldn't. Had known, in fact, since he found out that she was in love with Ripper. Even if he did make her go through with this, he wouldn't touch it. No, her passion belonged to Ripper alone. She would submit, but she would never respond.
Ethan hated to admit it, but he liked her. He was envious of Ripper. Again. She became nervous under his intense gaze. He had drawn this out simply to tease her, and perhaps himself. He found that he'd actually enjoyed himself. Now, it was time to send her back to Ripper.
He stood and moved to stand behind her. He put his hands on her shoulders and leaned down. He felt her stiffen as he lightly kissed the side of her neck. "Tell Ripper that he's a lucky man." He released her and moved away. He went to the window and looked out.
Buffy stood and went over to him. She looked up at him confused. "Ethan?"
Ethan looked at her with a rather sad smile. "You don't want Ripper to wake up and find you gone."
Buffy still looked confused. "I don't understand."
"That's all right." Ethan told her. "It's better that way." He touched her cheek briefly. "You should go, before I change my mind."
"Why did you change your mind?" Buffy asked.
"When you sell yourself to the devil and the devil gives you a reprieve, you don't ask why." Ethan told her. "You just run like hell."
"Is this a full pardon?" Buffy asked. "Or just a raincheck?"
"You came." Ethan said. "Your debt is paid." He paused. "Perhaps, I just didn't want to eat alone." He looked at her again. "Go now Buffy. And be happy with Ripper."
"Thanks for your help Ethan." Buffy said softly. "Bye." She gathered her things and went to the door. She opened the door to find a furious Giles, flanked by a Very upset Willow on one side and an Angry Oz on the other.
"Where is he?" Giles demanded angrily.
"I'm here Ripper." Ethan said calmly.
Giles was, indeed, in full Ripper mode. Even in his weakened condition, Buffy could barely hold him back. "What are you doing?" She asked.
"I'm going to kill him." Giles informed him as if it should be obvious. It should have been.
Buffy looked at Willow and Oz. "Help me." They shook their heads. "Giles, stop it!" Buffy said forcefully.
"After what he did to you." Giles countered. "Not bloody likely."
"Maybe she enjoyed it." Ethan drawled. He couldn't help himself as he egged Ripper on.
"Ethan!" Buffy exclaimed, horrified. "Do you have a death wish?" She grabbed Giles' face and made him look at her. "Giles. He didn't do anything."
Giles looked down at Buffy, his eyes ablaze with fury. "Then, why are you here? And what was that bloody note all about?"
"I made a deal with Ethan." Buffy told him.
"Why the hell did you go to Ethan?" Giles asked. "You know what he is."
"What was I supposed to do Giles?" Buffy asked in return. "I don't know anyone else that knows as much about magic." She paused and looked at him with tear bright eyes. "I couldn't lose you."
"But, to make a deal with Ethan ..." Giles said.
"I warned you that he wouldn't thank you." Ethan reminded her.
Giles glared at him. "Just what kind of a deal did you make with her?" He demanded.
"In exchange for my help in finding you." Ethan said. "She would spend the night with me."
Giles looked at Buffy stunned. "And you agreed to this?"
Buffy nodded, unable to meet his eyes.
"Why?" Giles asked.
"I knew it was the best chance ... Maybe the only chance I had to find you." Buffy told him quietly.
Giles returned his glare to Ethan. "You took advantage of her."
"In the first place," Ethan said. "I never thought she would agree to it. And when she did ... Well, I wanted to see how far she'd go." His tone mocked.
"And what did you see?" Giles asked in a deadly voice.
Ethan looked at Buffy, she looked at her feet. He could feel her shame, but he knew that she would do it all over again to save her Giles. He looked at Ripper, who glared at him. "I saw a beautiful woman." Ethan's tone no longer mocked. It was quite serious. "A woman willing to do anything to save the man she loves."
The silence that followed was deafening. Giles, Willow and Oz looked at Buffy. Buffy glared at Ethan. Ethan smiled sadly and went into the suite's bedroom and closed the door.
"Buffy ..." Giles began.
"We need to get you back to the hospital." Buffy cut him off. She tried to lead him out, but he wouldn't budge.
"I'm not going back to the hospital." Giles told her gently. "I would like to go home though." He reached out a hand and tilted her face up so that he could see her eyes. "Will you come home with me?"
The ride to Giles' place was made in silence. Oz and Willow dropped Buffy and Giles off and left. They understood that they needed to talk.
Buffy helped Giles inside and to the couch. Giles sat gingerly, the bruises from his one attempted escape were still sore.
Buffy went into the kitchen and made herself busy by preparing tea. Once it was finished, she took it to Giles. She poured him a cup and set it in front of him. Then she sat at the opposite end of the couch.
"Tell me what happened with Ethan." Giles said gently. "How did you find him?"
"Through Willy." Buffy told him.
"Why did you call him?" Giles asked next.
"I didn't know who else *to* call." Buffy explained.
"How could you make a deal with him?" Giles asked bewildered. "That deal."
"I'd have done anything to get you back." Buffy said softly. "And he did find you."
"Then why didn't he follow through?" Giles asked.
"I I don't know." Buffy explained. "He wouldn't tell me. Just said that it was better if I didn't know." She shrugged. She looked at him searchingly. "Who did this to you?" She asked. "Why? What did they want?"
"I don't know." Giles told her. "I only saw a couple of thugs. They never asked me any questions. I think that I was just meant to die."
"Do you think they'll try again?" Buffy asked, frightened.
"I think it most likely." Giles responded honestly.
There was an awkward silence.
"Buffy ..." Giles began nervously. "About what Ethan said ..."
"What about it?" Buffy asked warily.
"Is it ... Could you possibly love me?" He asked. His eyes roamed her face.
"Yes." Buffy whispered. "I was so afraid ..."
Giles reached over and pulled her onto his lap and hugged her to him. "I was afraid for you as well." He said into her hair. "Did they do anything to you?" He asked as he gently ran his hands up and down her back.
"They took you away from me." Buffy told him.
"I kept seeing your beautiful face and hearing your voice call me." Giles said to her. "It kept me going."
Buffy pulled back and looked into his eyes. "I love you Giles. I love you so much that I thought I'd die if I didn't find you. I don't think I can make it without you."
Giles took her face gently into his hands. "I feel the same. Every time I look at you, it's like watching the sun rise. I love you so very much." His arms went around her and he pulled her into a kiss.
Ethan watched the man as they waited in the airport terminal. His eyes kept darting about, frightened. Good.
Flight 407, bound for New York, then London was called. Ethan watched as the man rushed on to the plane as if the devil himself were on his heels. Ethan grinned wickedly to himself. The devil was on his heels, he though as he followed the man on to the plane.
Ethan sat next to him in first class and settled down to wait patiently. He'd done his own investigation, with contacts that Buffy couldn't begin to fathom. What h'd found astonished him. This pathetic little man had been responsible for taking Ripper. Not alone of course. He wouldn't have stood a chance against Ripper or Buffy alone. No, he'd had plenty of help, and it was only a matter of time before he tried again.
Ethan, however, wasn't about to let that happen. Having seen Buffy reduced to tears once was enough for any man. Even Ethan.
Once the plane took off and they were in the air, Ethan turned in his seat. "Hello, Mr. Travers." He said in his most malevolent voice...