The wolfman landed on Peter, knocking him to the ground and started to savage him with its teeth and claws. As befitted the slayer, Buffy was the first to react, three strides brought her up behind the struggling duo, reaching down she took the wolfman by the collar of his uniform and lifted him off Peter. Holding the struggling, growling wolfman by his collar and the seat of his pants, she threw him headfirst into the side of Peter’s armoured car.
Bouncing off the armoured side of Peter’s little tank the wolfman landed on all-fours, he snarled at Buffy before springing at her throat. Catching the wolfman in mid-leap, she knocked the angry, slavering creature to one side. It landed on the ground, rolled and was just about to spring into the attack when Buffy hit it in the muzzle with a side kick that would have crushed its skull had it been a human; the wolfman rolled away from her attack as it yelped in pain but still wasn’t seriously hurt.
Circling her opponent, Buffy was vaguely aware of men shouting and Peter being pulled to safety by his troops. Once again the wolfman launched himself at her; this time Buffy managed to catch the creature across the windpipe with the edge of her hand. Yelping in pain the wolfman was knocked to one side in midair. Not giving her adversary time to recover, Buffy moved in, took a fist full of uniform in her small hand, dragged the wolfman to its feet only to punch it between the eyes and knock it to the ground again.
Whining and trying to hold on to its nose with its paw like hands the wolfman found itself pulled to its feet again by its diminutive opponent only to be stuck again and set flying into the front of one of the armoured cars. Realising that it might have bitten off more than it could chew the wolfman tried to make good its escape instead of continuing its attack. Running after the wolfman, Buffy dived for its legs and brought it down with a rugby tackle that even Faith would have been proud of.
Squirming under its adversary the wolfman scrabbled at the ground with its forepaws as it tried to get away. Turning the wolfman onto his back, Buffy sat astride its chest and started to beat its head unmercifully with her fists. How dare this foul, misbegotten, creature attack one of her friends? How dare it threaten the life of a good man who’d cared for her since she’d become the slayer? How dare it hurt Giles! Freezing in mid-punch, Buffy realised what she’d been thinking, she’d mistaken Peter for Giles. When she’d attacked the wolfman it hadn’t been wholly to save Peter it had also been to protect Rupert.
“Oh my god,” Buffy whispered, “I’m in love with Giles!”
Strong arms pulled Buffy from off the whimpering wolfman, as she held on to the two troopers who were pulling her away from the wolfman, Buffy watched as Sergeant Wotton stepped forward and shot the wolfman twice in the head with his revolver.0=0=0=0
“How do you feel?” Buffy asked Peter as she sat in a chair next to his bed.
After the fight in the clearing, Second Troop had loaded up its wounded officer and driven off down one of the tracks that led off through the forest. After only five minutes or so they’d come to a farm. Dismounting, Sergeant Wotton had quickly evicted the farmer and his family and moved the troop in to the snug farmhouse. Today, second troop were not in a forgiving mood and to be honest neither was Buffy, she thought the Germans should be grateful that Wotton hadn’t shot them out of hand.
His men carried Peter up to the master bedroom where Trooper Osborne treated his wounds. After washing Peter’s the cuts and scratches with a mixture of holy water and disinfectant, Osborne bandaged up the cuts and bites the wolfman had inflicted before announcing that Peter would live.
“Not so bad, Miss Summers,” Peter smiled and lifted his bandaged hands, “feel a little like ‘The Curse of the Mummy’…did you ever see that film?”
“Saw the remake,” Buffy admitted, she paused and took a deep breath before speaking again, “You’re not going to turn into a werewolf, are you? I mean it bit you and everything so you’re probably infected.”
“Not to worry, Miss Summers,” Peter pushed himself up the bed so he could sit up.
“Could you please
call me ‘Buffy’,” Buffy pleaded, “just the once or would that break some sort of ‘stiff upper lip’ rule you Brits have?”
“Well, if you feel so strongly about it…Buffy,” Peter smiled, “personally I could never understand this need all American’s seem to have to tell one their entire life story at first meeting.”
“Yeah okay,” Buffy frowned, “but, what about the werewolf thing?”
“Oh,” Peter replied airily, “I hate to disappoint you but that wasn’t a werewolf.”
“It wasn’t?” Buffy scratched the back of her head and realised how dirty her hair had become over the last twenty-four hours; she stopped for fear of what she might find. “It looked like a werewolf to me.”
“No,” Peter shook his head, “that was a ‘wolfman’ a construct of magic and evil science.”
“Wolfman?” Buffy queried, “I’ve totally never heard of them.”
“Well that’s good,” Peter gave a relieved sigh, “that mean’s we must have killed all of them off and destroyed the knowledge that allowed people to be turned into such things.”
“Oh,” Buffy sat in silence for a moment before speaking again, “perhaps that’s why I was sent here…”
“Could well be,” Peter agreed and then added, “but it does seem rather a minor thing for you to be sent back all these years to do.”
“Hmmm,” Buffy nodded, she’d just thought of something and she wondered if she should let Peter in on the secret; after all she could be wrong, what harm could it do? “Erm, Peter,” Buffy began slowly, “I’ve been giving that some thought.”
“Giving what some thought?” Peter appeared to be watching her closely; Buffy couldn’t help but think how much he looked like ‘her’ Giles.
“The whole, why I was sent back thing,” Buffy pointed out.
“You have a theory,” Peter asked eagerly, “come-on lets hear it.”
“My watcher,” Buffy spoke slowly wondering all the time whether something would stop her from saying what she wanted to say, “Did I tell you he was English?”
“No,” Peter shook his head.
“Then I never told you his surname is ‘Giles’,” Buffy paused half expecting the walls of reality to come tumbling down around her, when they didn’t she took courage from the fact and continued speaking. “Then I probably didn’t tell you how similar you and he look.”
“You mean, you think that your watcher is related to me?” Peter asked in astonishment.
“I think he’s your son,” Buffy said quietly, the familial likeness, the same mannerisms the photograph on Giles wall, all these things couldn’t be denied.
“But I’m not even married,” Peter exclaimed.
“Not now,” Buffy pointed out, “but after the war maybe…I mean Giles has never said very much about his family. He mentioned once about wanting to be a fighter pilot or a greengrocer,” Buffy shrugged, “but other than that he’s never said much about his childhood.”
“Giles?” Peter frowned at Buffy, “You call your watcher Giles?”
“He doesn’t like his first name, I think,” Buffy admitted.
“Oh bloody hell,” Peter stared off across the room deep in thought, “Miss Summers…Buffy,” he began urgently, “you must say no more, you might have said too much already. I’ve already gone from not even thinking about getting married to now thinking about finding the right woman…what if I chose incorrectly and marry the wrong woman by mistake. Did-did your watcher ever say anything about his mother?”
Buffy opened her mouth to speak but was stopped by a cry from Peter.
“NO!” He yelped, “Don’t say anything…this is terrible!” Peter buried his face in his bandaged hands.
“Sorry,” Buffy rested her hand on Peter’s shoulder, “But you know it could be worse.”
“Worse?” Peter looked at Buffy aghast.
“Yeah,” an impish grin spread across Buffy’s face, “what if I can’t go back and have to stay here? What if we fall in love, get married and I have a baby? What if I’m my own watcher’s mother!?”
“AAGH!” Peter screamed.
“Sorry,” despite the seriousness of the situation Buffy couldn’t help but smile at the idea of being Giles’ mom or even mum, “Look,” she stood up slowly, “I think I’ve ruined your life enough for one day, I’ll leave you to get some rest.”
“I wish you would, Miss Summers,” Peter gasped as he pondered the ramifications of what Buffy had suggested.
“See you later,” Buffy called as she headed out the door.
Going back down stairs, Buffy found the kitchen deserted except for Trooper Payne who was, as usual, cooking.
“Where is every one?” Buffy asked.
“Out in the barn working on the vehicles Miss,” Payne replied, “I don’t suppose you could do me a favour could you?”
“Sure,” Buffy smiled always eager to help out where she could.
“Could you pop over to the barn,” Payne asked, “an’ tell Sergeant Wotton, grub’s up in ten minutes?”
“Grub,” Buffy sketched a salute before heading towards the door, “ten minutes, got it.”
Opening the kitchen door, Buffy stepped outside and vanished.0=0=0=0
Waking up in the middle of the night with a sense of dread is never a good thing. It’s particularly not a good thing when your name is Rupert Giles and the sense of dread has more to do with actual ‘dreadful’ things than anything your imagination could dream up. Lying in his bed, Giles listened to the noises the house made; he’d lived there long enough to be familiar with all the usual creaking and groaning noises the building made as it cooled down overnight. Tonight, however, there was something different and it took him a moment or two realise what it was. Of course the reason the house felt different was because Buffy was staying there.
Perhaps she’d got up and was moving around down stairs? Maybe she’d heard something and was investigating…maybe she was in a life or death struggle and needed his help? Getting out of bed, he put on his dressing gown and slippers; he quickly headed off down stairs. Moments later he found himself standing in the downstairs hall.
“Buffy?” He called quietly.
Hearing no noise of furniture being broken or cries of alarm, Giles was just reaching for the light switch when he noticed that the light was on in the kitchen. He smiled to himself; that was obviously what had happened; Buffy probably couldn’t sleep and had come down to make herself a drink or something. Walking over to the door he pushed it open and went into the kitchen. Much to his surprise he found the room empty.
Looking around the kitchen he saw the tin of drinking chocolate sitting on the work surface next to a mug, however, other than that there was no sign that Buffy had ever been down here. Starting to get worried he was just about to go back upstairs to check on Buffy’s room when he saw the back door open. Just for an instant he got the impression of looking into another room. Next his view was obscured by a short figure dressed in what appeared to be an old fashioned British army uniform that was at least four sizes too big for him…or her.
“Buffy?” Giles looked across the room at the dirty faced figure that looked at him in a mixture of surprise and relief. “Buffy,” he repeated, “is that you?”
It had to be Buffy; Giles knew she’d picked up some strange habits while she’d been in prison, but he was fairly sure that wearing old army uniforms to bed wasn’t one of them. His keen council trained watcher’s mind cut to the heart of the situation, there was something decidedly odd going on here.
“Giles?” Buffy took a step towards her friend and cried out with relief as she rushed towards him and wrapped her arms around his torso and sobbed, “Oh god, Giles it was awful!”
“What was awful?” Giles patted Buffy on her back and lead her over to one of the kitchen chairs.
This close to her he could smell the scents that clung to her clothes; tobacco, oil, cordite, blood all mixed with the natural earthy smells of wood, earth and sweat. But underlying all those aromas was a smell that hung just in the background, it waited on the edge of consciousness like a wild animal waiting to spring an ambush on the unwary. He could smell death on her hair, her clothes her skin. It covered her like some noisome cloak, hiding her natural scents that he’d grown so used to after all these years.
“My god, Buffy,” forgetting himself for the moment Giles returned her desperate embrace, “What happened to you?”0=0=0=0
“Filthy habit,” Buffy said as she lit another cigarette, “I’ll have to give it up.”
“How long did you say you were there?” Giles sat across the kitchen table from Buffy and picked up the crumpled packet of cigarettes, they looked genuine enough for what they purported to be.
“About two days,” Buffy drew on her fag and blew smoke up towards the ceiling.
“Then it must have been bad,” Giles admitted, “to get you smoking.”
“Like I say,” Buffy tapped some ash into a saucer that was doing duty as an ashtray, “I’ll give it up. Hey,” she smiled, “I gave up the drink didn’t I? I mean there must be a Tobacco Anonymous, I can fit in the meetings between my AA meetings and patrolling!”
Trying to smile, Buffy felt the tears role down her checks as she remembered all she’d seen.
“I-I never realised, Giles,” Buffy sniffed and wiped the tears from her face leaving dirty smears in their place, “I thought I could handle it…but the smell and all those eyes looking at me…there was no hope there…none. There was nothing we could do to help…”
Getting up Giles moved around the table and sat down next to his slayer, he placed his arm around her shoulders and pulled her close until her head was resting against his shoulder.
“I know this probably won’t mean anything to you now,” Giles explained quietly, “but in whatever small a way you did help. You brought a modicum of happiness to those poor souls in their last moments, it showed them their suffering was over and the world still cared.” Giles held on to Buffy tightly as sobs wracked her body, “You know the army dealt surprisingly well with it when they found the camps, they and you must have saved thousands.” Wondering whether Buffy would have time in her busy schedule of self help meetings to add treatment for PTSD, Giles added, “And of course you saved the world…again.”
“Yeah,” Buffy sniffed, disentangling herself from Giles, but still holding his hand in her own, she sat up and stubbed out the remains of her forgotten cigarette. “as usual.” Sniffing again she seemed to catch a whiff her own odour for the first time. “Eww Giles!” Buffy stood up and stepped away from him in embarrassment, “I’m sorry I must stink!”
“Can’t say as I noticed,” Giles lied.
“I must have a shower and get at least a little sleep.” Buffy started to move towards the door.
Yawning Giles glanced at the kitchen clock; it was half-past-two. If what Buffy had said was true, she’d been gone for maybe a minute possibly two, they’d been sitting here in the kitchen for nearly an hour and a half.
“Good idea,” Giles got up and followed her out into the hall and up the stairs, “we’ll talk about this in the morning…well,” he corrected himself, “later in the morning.”
“Yeah,” Buffy glanced back at him as she headed up the stairs, “and you can tell me all about your dad.”THE END.