Title: The Other Tattoo
Characters: Rupert Giles and Caleb.
Disclaimer: All things SPN belong to Eric Kripke, et al. All things BtVS belong to Joss Whedon, et al.
Team/Challenge: Team Roadhouse - #3 - use the line "Don't look at me like that. I'm not the one that touched it!"
Word Count: 1,305.
Summary: In the aftermath of the Eyghon fiasco Giles remembers how he got another tattoo.
Notes: pre-series BtVS/SPN and post - 'The Dark Age' BtVS.
Rupert Giles, Rupert, Giles, Ripper
, whoever he was these days, sat on a stool under the counter. The only light in the room came from the candles above the fireplace; their glow providing enough light to see the outline of the bottle and mug as he poured another splash of whisky. He sighed as he put the empty bottle back on the surface that doubled as a kitchen table.
Savouring the first sip, unlike every other he'd taken since his arrival home, he allowed himself to think back on the disaster that was the last few days. He wasn't sure who had caused himself more trouble; was it Ethan or was it Ripper? Ethan would never have been able to cause that trouble if it hadn't been for the indiscretions of his youth.
More friends were dead. The fault of the demon. The fault of Ethan. The fault of himself. The fault of themselves. The fault of them all. He took another sip, letting the burn numb the pain.
It had taken years to build up the person of Rupert Giles, Stuffy Watcher Extraordinaire. And Ethan bloody Rayne had brought it all down in a matter of hours. Eyghon had done it. Ripper had done it. He had done it. He took another sip, letting the burn punish.
And now? Ms. Calendar, Jenny. No, it would be back to Ms. Calendar now. Ms. Calendar had been so cold toward him, as if she would never see the potential in him again. As if she would never trust him again, with her life or with her heart. Not that he deserved any trust she might place in him. He took another sip, throat too numb to feel any burn.
And the children? None of them would look at him the same ever again. What had it been that Buffy had said to him? Ah, she was so used to him being a grownup, and then she finds that he's a person after all. He'd answered glibly that most grownups are. He'd taught them all an important life lesson, one that they would most likely learn again and again in this godforsaken town; even your most trusted, most grownup mentor could be a person, could make mistakes. Mistakes can kill. And his certainly had. He took another sip, letting it mask his pain.
Buffy had asked him another question, if he had any other tattoos that would come back and bite her on the behind. He'd told her no, nothing that would cause her any problems. She hadn't noticed the wording. He took another sip, letting it slide him into the memory.
"Don't look at me like that. I'm not the one that touched it!"
The year was 1981. Rupert Giles was visiting the colonies. He'd been allowed to travel alone. His mask of the Stuffy Watcher Extraordinaire was finally working well enough that he could be trusted, or perhaps they knew it was dangerous and they had a chance of getting rid of the embarrassment whilst making it look like a tragic accident, or fate. They were good at that.
The frequency of slayers occurring in the Americas was growing higher with each passing decade, something that annoyed the more traditional Watchers' no end. The Council's board members had finally decided, after ten years of arguments, that it would be a rather good idea if they established better contacts in the area.
To that end he, a Giles, just not one they knew how to deal with, had been sent to procure some contacts. No one would be too distressed if he didn't come back, if some American demon or vampire ended his life in the course of his duty.
He'd been given a list of the sort of contacts needed, witches, seers, weapons dealers, booksellers and the like. The list had not included any names. Travers, incompetent prick that he was, had assured him that it could not be too hard to track down what was needed, surely the Americas would look to the help of an organisation such as the esteemed Council.
He'd been through several Southern American countries and Canada, saving the United States until last. Finally, he'd only had one contact left to find. It had taken him several weeks to track down the young man, perhaps even younger than himself. He'd heard of Caleb from several of his new contacts, his, not yet the Council's. Just whispers on the wind. The man could get any weapon needed, to any place needed, at any time needed.
Just the sort of thing a Slayer could need. Just the sort of thing a Watcher could need.
He shook his head, "Sorry?"
"I said, don't look at me like that. I'm not the one that touched it!"
"Ah, of course. I'm so sorry."
The man raised an eyebrow in his direction. "You've got to be shitting me Rupert," then he snorted, "no, not Rupert. I'll go with Giles, it's not all that better, but it'll have to do."
Caleb laughed at the expression that crossed his face. "There's no way your all as stiff upper lip as you try to be."
"Right. So, let's try that again."
"Again. Don't look at me like that. I'm not the one that touched it!"
"You might not have been the one that touched it, but it's certainly your fault!"
"Better, not quite as good as could be expected, but it'll do."
A dark look crossed Giles' face, "I'm rather sure you wouldn't like 'as good as could be expected', Caleb."
Taking in his look the other man frowned, "No, maybe not. And, anyway, aren't you supposed to know about this sort of thing, know better and all that?"
"Be that as it may, the same could be said for you."
"Yeah, well, sometimes these things come out of nowhere."
"Huh, well at least the tat's a bit prettier than some of the others we coulda ended up with."
Thinking of the design on his arm, and the new one on his lower back, he was forced to agree. Although he did add that maybe next time they would both research odd packages before picking them up and using them for target practice. The next demon might not be so prompt at coming for it's just desserts, and they might not be sitting in the middle of a warehouse full of the best weapons a man can buy.
He shook his head, dispelling the memory. That tattoo hadn't caused nearly as much bother, and had only threatened two lives. Perhaps one day he would tell Buffy that story. He took another sip, laughing at the thought of telling his Slayer about the years in between Ripper and the man she'd first met, that there was a period when he was himself, almost, a time when he hadn't lost himself in the mask.
Perhaps he would even introduce Caleb and Buffy, his old friend would certainly get a kick out of it. And Buffy would love to meet the man who provided her with all the shiny weapons she loved so much, once she'd gotten over the fact that Giles had other friends from before, ones that could
be trusted. He downed the last of the whisky, laughing at himself and the thought that one day things would be quiet enough on either end for Caleb and Buffy to ever meet, for Buffy to be alive long enough for them to ever meet. He stood, meaning to find the other bottle of whisky he had stashed away, instead he reached for the phone, dialling the number that was imprinted on his brain.
"You got me."
"Caleb? It's Ru-, it's Giles."
"Giles, man, it's good to hear from you. What can I get for you?"