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The Key's Watcher 1: Help Wanted

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This story is No. 1 in the series "The Key's Watcher & Dark Haven Series". You may wish to read the series introduction first.

Summary: *Complete* A new universe, a new city, a new store. All Giles needs now is a new employee.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Anita Blake > Giles-Centered(Past Donor)elementalvFR15925,256475558,30216 Jun 0328 Jun 03Yes
CoA Winner

Part 9

Part 9

Journal of Rupert Giles

June 17, 2001

It seems as if the witch's execution earlier this week has been the only thing on the news lately. CourtTV has been showing clips of the trial and execution, and CNN can think of little else to report. It's odd that the woman's name was Catherine Madison. She looked nothing like Amy's mother, but the coincidence was rather startling, especially since she was from Santa Barbara, which in this world is in the same location as Sunnydale was in our world. Strange how there could be such different names for the towns, given that all the other town names are the same or close enough to count, as far as I can tell.

I've tried to keep Dawn from watching television, but she wants to know everything. I imagine she's a bit sensitive over the issue, considering how close she'd been to Willow and Tara. Too, she keeps grilling me on local, state and federal law concerning the use of magic. I've done my best to reassure her that if I'm caught, I won't be tried for using magic in the commission of a crime, but it doesn't seem to be enough. I think she's waiting for reassurance that I won't be caught, period, and I can't give her that. I won't give her that kind of false promise.

In any event, my activities aren't even in the same sphere as the malevolence of the Madison woman. She'd caught her husband cheating on her some years earlier, and rather than getting a divorce and taking him for all he was worth, she decided to bind him to her permanently with magics. The spells were invidious, and it took a solid month for the state's own witches to remove the castings. The magical bindings she'd created were so strong that it was feared he might die when she was executed.

A number of television stations have been broadcasting interviews with Charles Madison, and though I feel for the man, I can't help but think he's a right prat who got off easily. He freely admitted to having had affairs almost from the day the two of them were married, yet he's still managed to garner an amazing amount of sympathy.


~*~*~


September 15, 2004

My second waking in Jean-Claude's lair wasn't nearly as difficult as the first had been, though I did wonder who had tucked me back into bed. I had vague memories of being comforted, and I made every effort to keep them in soft-focus. Unfortunately, I was unsuccessful. I remembered the sensation of Jean-Claude's hand on my back and how wonderful it had felt just at that moment. Bloody hell.

And then I remembered his last words to me — about the vampire who'd claimed me. Bloody hell.

I wasn't sure what to do, or if I should do anything at all. It wasn't as if he could force me to tell him. Wait a moment, I thought. That isn't right. He can. All he has to do is catch my gaze and — I stopped chasing my thoughts, as I finally understood the reason behind Jean-Claude's strange expression when we'd spoken earlier. He'd been trying to capture my mind, and he hadn't been able to. At that point, I ran through an extensive list of names to call myself. I'd spent more than three years trying to blend into this society without garnering attention, and in less than forty-eight hours, I'd managed to completely nullify all my efforts. I sighed, then let out a small shriek when I heard someone clear his throat. I asked, "Who's there?"

"Nathaniel," he said. "I'll light a candle, so you can see for yourself."

"I recognize your voice," I said. Then I asked, "I suppose you heard all that?"

"Yes." He sounded vaguely embarrassed but also amused when he added, "I didn't realize there were that many ways to describe a person so negatively. I think you've outdone Anita."

"There are more ways, actually, but I've been trying to wean myself away from swearing. Dawn doesn't like it, and it tends to upset the customers. I don't suppose there's any chance you have clothing for me?" I wasn't terribly hopeful. I suspected that if Jean-Claude thought leaving me naked would make it easier to keep me here, he would make excuses until the cows came home. I sat up at the first flare of light, and I was happy to note that I wasn't nearly as light-sensitive as I had been before. The nausea and dizziness were likewise gone, but a low-level headache remained.

"Anita never made it back. They found Mrs. St. Clair around four o'clock this morning, and she's been working to keep her under lock and key," he answered. "But Jean-Claude's tailor delivered some stuff for you about an hour ago." I watched him light enough candles to provide a rich, soft glow in the room. It was decorated in deep greens and golds, and I felt quite decadent lying in bed with the feel of silk against my skin. Jean-Claude had more than one way to seduce a person, and the sooner I was able to leave, the better.

"What time is it? I lost my watch somewhere along the line."

"It's just before seven — in the morning," he said. "Do you want to take a bath before you get dressed?"

"A shower would be wonderful," I told him as I spotted the robe at the foot of the bed. I leaned forward to snag it and chose to ignore Nathaniel's sudden intake of breath. He wouldn't ask about the scars, and I certainly had no intention of explaining them or even talking about them. I didn't particularly care if he said anything to Ms. Blake. It was unlikely that she would pester me for an explanation. Jean-Claude, however, had every intention of determining their origin. Fortunately, it was after sunrise, so I didn't have to worry about him showing up for a chat anytime soon.

The time of day also meant I could take as long as I needed in the shower. The fact of the matter was that I felt dirty. Abigail's potions had served to keep me unaware for who knows how long before I was rescued. She could have done anything to me or with me, and I would never know, unless she told me herself. She had managed a feat few had accomplished — she behaved in a manner more evil than Angelus. He, at least, had wanted me conscious and aware of every little thing he was doing to me. When I passed out during the torture, he used smelling salts to revive me, just so he could continue with his little games.

I pulled the robe on and made sure I was decently covered before I tried to get out of bed. Standing was considerably easier than it had been earlier. Nathaniel came up to offer a steadying hand, but I declined, saying, "I think I can manage. Is that the bathroom?"

Nathaniel hovered a bit until I closed the door on him. I wasn't sure if his behavior was driven by worry or by a desire to act in the capacity of a valet. Either way, I had no desire for him to fuss over me. I started the shower, and whilst I waited for it to reach the right temperature, I took off the robe and got my first good look at myself. The full-length mirror was lit with make-up lights, and they exposed every scrape, cut and bruise I'd acquired since the day before. It wasn't a pretty sight, but I could remember looking worse after a particularly rough patrol with Buffy.

When I finally climbed into the shower, it was a moment of pure bliss, even though I recognized it as another of Jean-Claude's seduction techniques. There were several adjustable shower heads, and it felt as if I were getting an all-over massage. There was a steam setting as well, but I left it alone. If I took a steam bath, I'd be so relaxed that chances were I'd never get around to leaving. As it was, I stayed under the water for a good half hour before I finally felt clean enough to face the day.

After brushing my teeth and shaving, I left the bathroom feeling like a new man. By this time, it was clear that I could tolerate light again, and I switched on two of the lamps. I enjoyed candlelight, but electric light was far more practical.

"Nathaniel? You said clothing was delivered for me?" He'd been curled up in an armchair, but now he stood, the very definition of grace in motion, and walked over to the wardrobe. He pulled out a charcoal grey suit, and held it up for my inspection.

"This is — well, it's nice, and all, but I would have made do with jeans and a t-shirt," I said, puzzled over why the master of the city would have gone to the trouble of having a suit sent over for me.

Nathaniel gave me a shy grin and said, "You should be happy he didn't try to dress you the way he dresses his wolves. At least this can be worn anywhere." He pulled out a shirt — in a deep green silk — and a black silk tie. One more trip into the wardrobe produced socks, shoes and black silk boxers. I debated leaving off the boxers, but I couldn't do that to a perfectly innocent pair of suit trousers. I laid everything out on the bed, then waited for Nathaniel to leave.

He didn't.

"Nathaniel, I'd like to get dressed now," I said, hoping he would take the hint.

"I'll help you," he answered, as if it were the most natural thing in the world.

"No, you won't," I said as gently as possible. "You aren't my personal servant, and I won't have you behaving that way around me." His face fell, and I felt as if I'd just kicked a puppy. Lovely. "Nathaniel, look at me — I have very firmly held beliefs about what my employees will and will not do in the line of duty, especially before they're officially on the payroll."

Had I planned on hiring him before that moment? I honestly couldn't say. But his quick thinking had no doubt saved my life. At the very least, his actions saved me from a lifetime of mindless devotion to a woman who'd hidden her evil so well that it was possible she was responsible for far worse than she'd done to me. For that alone, he deserved an opportunity to prove himself.

He looked up at me with hope in his wide, violet eyes and said, "I'm your employee?"

"Yes, you are. You start on Monday, but only if you leave now and let me get dressed. Now shoo!" I made brushing motions to send him on his way, then turned my attention to getting dressed. It was an experience quite unlike any I'd ever had. Each piece felt as if it had been tailored to my exact measurements, but I couldn't imagine anyone going out of their way to have a suit tailor-made that way for a guest. It didn't matter — not really. As soon as I got home, I planned to change into my own clothing. Nathaniel could bring Jean-Claude's suit back.

When I was dressed and ready to face the world again, I opened the bedroom door. Nathaniel was waiting just outside, and I said, "Can you drive me home? I've no idea where my glasses and wallet are, and I want to get there before Dawn leaves for class."

"Jean-Claude hoped you would stay for the day," he said, not quite meeting my eyes.

"Yes, well, I hope to meet the Queen of England, but that's not likely to happen either," I said dryly.

"He thought you'd feel that way, so he said to tell you he'd like you to come to dinner this evening," Nathaniel said, his eyes cast downward now, as if he knew what my answer to that would be. He should, he'd already heard it once before. And besides, Dawn's new boyfriend was coming over to eat with us this evening.

"You may tell him my answer hasn't changed. Nathaniel, are you going to drive me home?"

"No. Not me. Jason will," he answered unhappily.

"There, there. No reason for such a face," I said, patting him on the shoulder. I still found myself resisting the urge to scratch him behind the ears, and it was mildly embarrassing. "You've delivered your messages, and nothing bad has happened. Where do I find this Jason?"

"Right here," I heard from just down the hall. I jumped slightly, but happily, I didn't shriek.

Vague memories from the first time I awoke prompted me to ask, "Were you the one who helped me earlier?"

Jason gave me a wide, engaging smile and said, "Yeah. Have to say that's the first time anyone's vomited after being in bed with me."

I ignored his attempts to bait me — when it came right down to it, he had nothing on Ethan, who'd been a master at the art of getting me to react badly. Still, I couldn't let his remarks pass entirely without comment, so I answered, "Perhaps a stricter interest in personal hygiene will prevent future such occurrences. I'd like to go home now."


~*~*~


Did I run away from Jean-Claude? Absolutely. But the expression on Dawn's face when I got home was worth the effort, as was the fact that I was well away from him for the time-being. With Nathaniel now on the payroll, though, I doubted my respite from Jean-Claude's attention would last very long. But if he was too persistent to leave a question unanswered, then I was too stubborn to be pushed into doing something I didn't want to do. I doubted that we were looking at a Clash of the Titans scenario, but I thought the next few months would no doubt prove to be interesting.

My reunion with Dawn was brief, as she had to get to class, but she warned me to expect a visit from the police at some point during the day. They apparently needed my statement, though I wasn't sure what I could tell them. Unless they had a technique for helping me regain those lost hours, I wouldn't even be able to testify that I'd seen her yesterday. The best any of us could hope for was that the evidence gathered from her home would be enough to convict her. Angry though I was with her, I wasn't sure how I felt about her possible conviction. Given her use of magic, both to try to kill Ms. Blake and to control me, it would be a death penalty case. Was I really prepared to accept her death as a suitable punishment? I didn't know, and the question and lack of an answer troubled me greatly.

After apologizing somewhat profusely for having tried to convince me to date Abigail, Dawn told me she wasn't sure what time the police would be here, so she would do the grocery shopping this afternoon. Evidently Brian liked grilled burgers, so at least the meal would be simple enough to cook. Just before she ran off to classes, I told her Nathaniel would be working for us starting next Monday.

"Good. I was going to beat you about the head and face with a whisk broom if you didn't hire him," she said as she walked out the door.

"Cheeky brat," I muttered.

"Cheesy Brit," she called back, unwilling to let me have the final word.

I smiled as she ran down the steps. It had been a difficult two days, but honestly, I'd withstood worse. With Abigail in custody, I could work on cleansing my aura and removing whatever spells she'd cast on me, all the while ignoring troublesome questions about what might or might not have happened whilst I was under her power. Dawn had a promising new beau, and I had a new employee. Though it was clear we could never again be able to blend in without notice, I thought it might be possible to deflect attention from us for the most part.

All in all, September was turning out to be a very intriguing month indeed.

~fin~



Author's Note: Based on the reader response I've received to this story, I plan to continue writing about Giles and Dawn's life in the Anita-verse. I want to thank everyone who read this story, and I send special thanks out to those of you who shared your thoughts and opinions in reviews and e-mails. The next story is already begun, and I should begin posting within a week or two.

Thanks again,

Tara

The End

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