“What are you afraid of?”
It seemed like an easy enough question, but when you spend your time chasing monsters in the dark the answer might not be so simple.
He had been traveling for over a year now, going from town to town, chasing leads on supernatural occurrences. As long as he was working he was fine, it was when he was left to his own devices that he started having issues.
Randall died three years ago. A lot had happened since then, but if Rupert dropped dead, that event would be the one that defined his time on Earth.
That’s probably why, after three weeks, he was still so bothered by his father’s question.
He found himself back in London. He had planned to stay in a hotel, but when his grandmother learned of his visit she insisted he stay at the house. Edna Giles always got what she wanted.
His grandmother was as healthy as any woman in her sixties could hope to be, which was impressive for a woman nearing eighty. Still, after his grandfather passed she had moved into his childhood home, where his father could look after her.
It was through her meddling that he ended up staring at the blank walls of his boyhood room. He hadn’t spent much time there since he was ten, mostly weekends and holidays, when he was out of school.
Once upon a time, posters of fighter planes adorned his walls. They were taken down and thrown away, along with his dreams of becoming a fighter pilot, after he was told he would be a watcher. Watchers don’t get the luxury of dreams, only nightmares.
A knock pulled him out of his thoughts and he turned to find his father in his doorway.
“Rupert,” His father greeted. “You should wash up, dinner will be ready in ten minutes. We expect you to be there when it is served.”
“I shall.” He promised, he always felt uncomfortable with his father, overly proper. When he was a boy he often envied the ease at which his mates interacted with their fathers. He hadn’t spoken to his father in the three weeks since the question was asked, now here he was about to have dinner with the man. He had a feeling this would be an uncomfortable evening.
Sure enough, it took only ten minutes for an argument to erupt. It started when his father asked him what brought him back to London.
“A demon, I tracked it here from up North.” He lied.
The elder Mr. Giles knew his son well enough to know when he wasn’t being truthful. There was apparently a tell, but his father would never tell him what it was. “That’s interesting, because The Council doesn’t know anything about any new demons in town.”
“The Council isn’t all knowing.” Rupert argued.
“When it comes to demons in London, it is. So why don’t you tell me the truth, Rupert?”
Their nice family dinner was ruined. So, without bothering to answer, he stood up, put his napkin down on the table and stormed out of the house.
Was he overreacting? Sure. Then again, why did his father insist on riling him up? That was just one of the many things that annoyed him about his father, he was incapable of letting things go. That also happened to be a shared trait, which explained why they argued much of the time.
There was a bar in the East End his former band played sometimes. It’s where he first met Ethan, and even now, when he’s needed to speak with him, more often than not he would reach him at the bar.
Sure enough he found Ethan hunched over a pint at one of the back tables. He hadn’t seen Ethan since just after Randall’s death. He had hoped never to have to. However, circumstances change. He no longer had a choice. This was something he couldn’t do on his own.
“Hello, Ethan.” He said, pulling out the chair across from him and taking a seat.
Ethan’s eyes widened in surprise when he recognized his old friend, “Ripper, this is… unexpected.”
“I know, this isn’t a social visit.” Too much had happened. While he stopped doing magic, recreationally, after Randall’s death, Ethan not only continued but devoted himself even more to the service of Janus.
“I thought not. What demon or other form of evil is terrorizing our great city this time?” Ethan asked, leaning back in his chair.
“Nothing, as far as I know… It’s terrorizing me.” He said. At Ethan’s confused look he went on to explain, skipping over the phone conversation he’d had with his father. “Three weeks ago I was up North. I had just finished dealing with a nest of vampires. Afterward, I couldn’t sleep for three days. I took sleeping pills, I saw doctors, and nothing helped.” He lowered his voice. “I had to resort to magic, there was no other way, the sleep deprivation was driving me mad.”
“You don’t have to explain yourself to me, Ripper, you’re the only one here that has a problem using magic for your own gain.”
He wanted to argue, but it wasn’t worth it. “Fine, but since I haven’t been able to figure out what’s wrong with me, I’ve seen six physicians and even a psychiatrist.”
He didn’t have anything against psychiatrists, but the point of speaking to one was about establishing an open and honest dialogue to get to the source of the problem. When you spend your evenings hunting demons an open dialogue would only get him a one-way trip to a psychiatric facility. That’s why the Watcher’s Council had employed their own psychiatrists for watchers to utilize, but the last place he wanted The Council was inside his head.
“I came to the conclusion that whatever is the matter with me, it must be mystical. Which was confirmed when I made a protection charm to wear, and it worked. I fell asleep.”
“Well it sounds like you have this pretty well under hand, why do you need me?”
“If Eyghon has re-”
Ethan’s eyes darkened. “It’s not Eyghon.”
Ethan looked angry, something Rupert was not used to. Even when Ethan was being thrashed he always had a spark of humor in his eyes. It was part of his charm. This… his eyes had turned black, he’d seen it before when they performed dark magic.
If it wasn’t obvious before, it was clear now, Ethan was not the same man who had nearly fallen victim to a vampire five years prior. The Ethan he met in the back alley of that very bar.
Rupert walked out the back door into the alley. He needed some fresh air before he took the stage. No matter how many times he played he was always nervous right before a show. He usually didn’t calm down until after the first song.
He heard a commotion further down the alley and he went to investigate. After a decade of studying to be a watcher, he recognized that something was wrong almost immediately. It only took a fraction of a second to react, jumping into the fray.
He pushed the vampire off the young man and looked around for anything around that could be used as a stake. Before he could find anything the demon had grabbed him by his leather jacket and threw him across the alley.
Pain exploded in his head as it smacked against the brick wall behind him. He didn’t let the pain hold him back. He looked over, and though his vision was slightly blurry, he could see the broken bar stool next to him. As the vampire bent over to feed from him, he grasped the wooden leg and thrust it into his attacker’s chest as hard as he could. The vampire was defeated, leaving behind only a fine layer of dust.
He stood up and brushed off his clothes as he went to check on the other man.
“Are you alright?” He asked, looking him over. He seemed fine, just shaken.
“Fine, thank you.” He said. He quickly regained his wits and gave Rupert a smile.
Rupert’s hand went up to touch the back of his head, where he hit his head against the wall. He felt around gingerly, but as his fingers brushed against the wound he hissed and pulled his hand away.
“You’re hurt.” The other man said, seeing the blood on Rupert’s fingers.
“I’ll be fine,” Rupert assured him.
“Let me at least take a look, you might need to go to the hospital.”
“That’s really unnecessary.” He argued though he was already turning to let him see. He felt something on the back of his head, possibly a hand, then heard the man say a few words in Latin. He recognized them immediately. His body suddenly felt very warm. “You’re a warlock.” He turned back around to face the other man.
“Yes.” He replied simply. “My name is Ethan.”
“Well Ripper, you took a nasty bump to the head, but the spell I did might speed up the healing process.”
“Thank you, but my name is actually Rupert.”
“We’ll see about that.”
End of Flashback
“Ethan, I don’t want to believe it’s Eyghon any more than you do, but what else could it be?” Rupert Asked. “We always knew this would be a possibility.”
“Then why is it only affecting you? It’s not affecting me, or Dierdre, or Philip, or Thomas. Besides, Eyghon is known as the sleepwalker, it can only take over a host that is either dead or unconscious?”
“No, I’ll help you, but it’s not Eyghon.” Ethan said, cutting him off.
“Alright.” He knew Ethan had a point, but if it wasn’t Eyghon then he had no idea what it could possibly be. “What is it then? If it’s not Eyghon then we’re at square one, we don’t know what it is, or how to get rid of it.”
“Why don’t you ask your council about it? Last time you saw me you said you never wanted anything to do with me, or my magic, again.” Ethan reminded him. “Why would you want me to help you?”
“I don’t want the council to know anything about this.” He told him, a little louder than he meant to, catching the attention of a few people around them. He lowered his voice. “Please, Ethan, I need you to do this for me.”
Ethan sighed. He never could say no to Ripper.
When Rupert got back to the house that evening he expected everyone to be asleep. After Ethan agreed to help him they snuck into the library at The Council’s headquarters, with the help of a former classmate. They researched until well after midnight. By the time he walked back in the front door it was nearly two in the morning.
“Where were you?”
The voice startled him and he spun around. He found his father standing in archway to the sitting room with a half empty glass of scotch in his hand.
“Out.” He answered simply. “Goodnight.”
“If you’re going to stay here I need to know where you go and I need you back at a decent hour.”
“I’m twenty-six bloody years old, and perfectly capable of making my own decisions.”
“Because those decisions have worked out so well for you in the past. Not under my roof.” His father said, walking closer so he was standing right in front of him. He towered over his son.
At six feet one inch, Rupert Giles was an impressive man, more so than most. However, his father wasn’t most men. His father had used his size as an intimidation tactic for most of his life, but now it had very little effect on him.
Rupert clenched his jaw and looked defiantly up at his father. “I didn’t ask to stay here. I had a room booked across town, Gran asked me to stay. I did it for her. I didn’t do it because I need your help, or anything else from you.”
The smug look on the elder Giles’ face faltered.
“Gran’s intentions were good, but I made a mistake thinking you and I could ever live in the same house again, even temporarily.” With that said, Rupert marched up to his room and packed his things.