"Ripper, slow down! Think this through!"
But Giles kept running, even though his heart felt like it would explode. It was his fault -- he'd smudged a line in the chalk -- just one wrong bloody step -- and the demon they'd summoned had escaped into the streets of Oxford.
He heard a scream, somewhere in the dark, and ran toward it. Came around the corner, to find a scene out of a slasher flick. Except in the movies, you didn't smell the blood --The demon turned from its fallen victims, and let out a roar.
Giles dove forward, knife in one hand, cross in the other. Behind him, he heard Ethan shouting in Latin. He didn't recognize the spell, though he thought he should have.
And then the knife was deep in the demon's chest.
The demon roared, and slammed him through the air. He hit the ground, and for a moment, everything went black.
When he came to, Ethan was leaning over him. "Rupert -- "
"I'm all right."
Giles forced rolled over, forced himself to his knees, then his feet. Then he knew -- the other people wouldn't be so lucky.
The man had just a mass of pulped flesh where his head had been. The woman lay on her back, her curly blonde hair spread around her. Her broken ribs protruded up through her bloodied jumper.
And then he noticed the girl; he guessed she would be three or four. She stared up at him.
He moved closer, to block out the sight of her parents' bloodied corpses. "Hello, there," he said. "What's your name?"
Bloody ridiculous name. He felt a sudden, irrational surge of anger toward her parents, followed by a surge of nausea.
"Buffy -- I want you to close your eyes." He reached out for her, wanting only to get her out of there, away from the carnage.
Her punch knocked him back.
"My mommy says I'm not supposed to talk to strangers."
* * *
Back in their flat, they flipped through books and scrolls. The girl, cleaned of blood and dressed in one of Ethan's t-shirts, was asleep on their bed. The spell Ethan had used shouldn't wear off until the next morning.
"The demon's blood wouldn't have done this," Ethan insisted. "Not to an ordinary human. But if she had some superhuman potential, it might have activated it."
"Potential -- yes." He felt sick to his stomach. "She's a Slayer, Ethan. And when the Council finds out -- " He realized that he was crumpling the scroll he was holding. He set it down, and pulled his suitcase from the closet.
"I'm not going to let the Council have her. She's too young."
"Then I'm coming with you."
"Ethan -- "
"If you're going to play daddy to the ickle slayer, you're going to need help. Admit it, Ripper, you need me."
Giles felt himself smiling. "Almost as much as you need me."
"I wouldn't go that far, Ripper -- but time for that later. It sounds as if our daughter has woken."