Evil Deadening, part 2: Getting to Know You
“Listen, Doll-face,” Ash smirked condescendingly, “Last few dames I warmed up to went all deadite on me. And while I wouldn't mind the ol' tantric tango, I've got better things to worry about. Kapish?”
“What? No... you got it totally wrong...” Buffy tried to interrupt but Ash continued on.
“Now why don't you skip off and play tea time with daddy, okay Barbi?”
“Whatever. Just leave me alone.” And with that, the chainsaw stranger continued down the cemetery path. Giles caught up to his Slayer and gave her a questioning glance.
“I think I lost that battle,” she grumbled, watching the stranger gain distance.
“Not surprised in the least. He's quite the prat.” Giles couldn't help but smirk.
“I don't get it. I'm a very persuasive person. I mean, I have certain natural assets that usually get the job done. You know?”
“Perhaps not in this particular case.”
“Think you can do better, I suggest you try before he chainsaws his way into the Sunnydale VIP annals.”
“Say, by some miracle, I manage to persuade him into accepting our help...”
“Your help, Giles. Apparently I've got nothing.”
“Fine, my help. Even if I persuade him, where could he possibly stay?”
“Don't look at me. How would I explain away a guy with a chainsaw arm and blood-soaked duds to my mom? She's only dipped into the wading pool of the Slayer side of my life. I think I'd have to shove her in the deep end for this one.”
“Even if you sport the bill for the room, with his anti-sociality, I'm sensing gone by daybreak. Just an opinion.”
“I suspect a rather good one.” Giles heaved a sigh. “I suppose he'll have to stay with me.”
“Can't wait to see how you manage this one.”
“Give us a moment will you?”
“Sure thing. Go get him tiger.”
Giles shot an unamused glare before dismissing himself. It took a short jog but he successfully caught up to Ash. Buffy followed along a short distance behind to give them a bit of privacy. A few minutes later, Giles returned to her side looking quite pleased.
“Alright, I convinced him to stay with me.”
“Wow. You did it?” Buffy was impressed. “How did you talk him into it?”
“I appealed to his better judgment.”
“You said there would be beer and pizza. You better not squelch, English, or I'll redecorate your place.”
“Not to worry.” Giles reassured his companion as he worked the lock. He pushed the door open wide to get a clear view of the darkened space, a cautionary measure practiced by all the Scooby gang ever since the unfortunate events with Angelus. Once he'd determined it was safe, he continued inside and turned on a few lights. He tossed his keys to the desk and glanced back. Ash crossed the threshold but remained standing at the door as it closed behind him, a suspicious glint in his eyes.
“Pardon me a moment.” Giles took advantage of his companion's hesitancy to retrieve a towel from the kitchen. He returned and offered it to his guest who immediately struck a defensive posture.
"What do you think you're doing, four-eyes?"
"You're... erm, dripping."
"Oh, sorry." Ash shrugged and accepted the towel. He dabbed it to the areas in need of immediate attention but it was obvious this mess would require more help than what a single towel could provide.
"Would you mind removing the remains of your deceased wardrobe?"
"Whatwhy?" Though Giles deciphered two distinct words, it came out sounding more like one, choked out by panic.
"Well, for one thing, you're ruining my floor. Also, I thought you might benefit from a shower."
"A shower. Man, I haven't had a shower in ages... literally."
"It shows," Giles mumbled under his breath.
"What would you know about it, Mister Goody-two-shoes? You're just as necro-juicy as I am."
"Right you are. I'll make due in the kitchen. It's only proper to allow my guest to go first."
"So what? You want me to strip here?" Ash had a delightful prudery that encouraged Giles' mischievous side.
"Better that than traipsing about, dribbling demon blood and gore everywhere."
"But I'd be..." He gulped. "...naked."
"An unfortunate consequence, I agree. If you wish, I can busy myself with arranging some dinner while you get cleaned up."
"Food, yeah. Pizza and beer, that was the deal. You do that." He began to unbutton his gore-stained blue shirt and paused. "What about my clothes?"
"I'll see they get a proper burial and quite possibly an exorcism." Giles smirked. "I'm sure I can scrounge up something suitable from my own collection."
“Um, okay. Nothing starchy or tight, though. Something comfortable... loose.”
“I have just the thing.” Giles mentally mapped his closet, shopping for what that might be as he retrieved another expendable dishrag from the kitchen to tend to his person. When he returned to the living room, he saw Ash awkwardly working to unbuckle the strap of his chainsaw with his one hand.
"Would you like some help?"
"I got it," Ash responded quickly, fingers fumbling uselessly with each attempt.
"Really, it's no bother."
"I said I got it!" Ash barked and then shrank back a little at his unprovoked outburst. "It... um... can be tricky."
“No doubt.” Giles watched quietly for over a minute before saying patiently, "You have nothing to prove here, Ash. Please, let me help."
Ash thought for a moment then tempered his pride and braced the chainsaw as Giles unbuckled the strap. When the tool came loose, Giles saw a spark of dread in Ash's eyes. He wasn't sure if it was concern over possibly dropping the weapon or being separated from something he viewed as a part of himself. Regardless, Giles carefully cradled the chainsaw and placed it near the door.
"It just occurred to me that I might have some solvent and lubricant to clean this up as well. It looks as if it could use it."
"Really? That would be... be great. Thanks." For the first time since he'd met the young man, Giles saw appreciation in Ash's rugged features and damn, if it wasn't sinfully dashing.
"You're quite welcome."
With the weapon removed, Giles' eyes were drawn to the arm that had supported it a moment before. He was a bit unnerved by the absence of Ash's hand. All that remained was a cloth-wrapped stump. Ash managed to unbuckle the shotgun holster next and carefully placed it to rest beside the chainsaw. When he began to unwind the wrap, he noticed Giles staring.
"You got a problem, bub?"
"No." Giles was startled out of his daze and more than a little embarrassed for being caught. "You're quite remarkable. I can't imagine what it would be like."
"Not the end of the world. You get used to it."
"How long have you…"
"In real time or my time? I've been tossed around through the ages like Father Time's bitch so the calendar's relative." He shrugged. "Been a few months now, I think." The wrap fell from the stump revealing a deformed scar of grated skin.
"Dear lord. It was the saw, wasn't it?"
"Yeah. Lopped it off myself." Ash shot him a suspicious look. "How'd you figure that, Sherlock?"
"It's beneficial in my line of work to know the barest essentials of forensics. Recognizing wound patterns aids in determining what demons we're facing."
With a bit of a struggle, Ash managed to tug his blue shirt off and let it drop beside him. As Giles suspected, the young man's torso was athletic and nicely muscled. His skin was pale, patchy with crusted blood that highlighted every scar he'd won in battle. Before Giles got caught ogling again, he tore his gaze away and escaped into the kitchen to tend to himself.
"Since we're playing show and tell, here, what's your line of work?" Ash asked.
Giles carefully removed his jacket and began his own pile of mess on the floor near the sink. "That depends, would you care for the long or short answer?"
"I'm a Watcher." Giles considered his answer and corrected himself, "Actually, I suppose I'm not anymore."
"Doesn't matter 'cause I haven't the foggiest idea what a Watcher is, anyway."
"It's a sort of mentor and assistant to the Slayer." Giles tugged his shirt free and let it slump upon his heap.
"What's a Slayer?"
"That would be Buffy, my young lady friend you met earlier."
"Lady friend? You mean to tell me she's not your kid?"
"Man, did I ever peg you wrong. Nice going, baggin' such a sweet piece of…"
"You'd be wise to stop right there or you'll need a matching chainsaw for your other arm," Giles growled. "As I said before, I'm simply an assistant and friend. Nothing more."
"A man with scruples." Ash smirked. "You're alright in my book, English."
"So glad you approve," Giles grumbled sarcastically.
"So the Slayer's a dame, huh?"
Giles sighed in frustration and started back toward the living room, talking as he went, "Buffy's much more than that. She's…" He froze with the sight of Ash naked before him. "A bloody handful." He finished, absently admiring the nude form on display. Ash quickly covered himself with the blood-stained dish towel which provided only the slightest touch of modesty.
"I, um… I didn't mean anything by it. I'm sure she's a pro at what she does and all."
"Of course," Giles responded and offered a distracted smile.
"Um, so where's the shitcan?"
"What? Oh yes. My apologies. It's just over here." Giles gestured the way. "Be sure to help yourself to anything you need. You'll find a generous stock of soaps, towels and such in the cabinet."
"Groovy. Thanks." Ash shuffled forward, carefully making his way toward the bathroom.
"Think nothing of it." Giles smiled politely and escaped back into the kitchen wishing he could abide by his suggestion to think nothing of it. It was clear that wasn't going to be the case.