Duty of Dust ~ The Crow part 1
Rating: FRAO for extreme violence, torture, rape, character death, all around badness.
Pairing: Giles/Jenny, all conventional for the show.
Notes: An AU departure from "Becoming" onward, post season 2 BtVS based on the story The Crow. This story tweaks canon to my bidding. Unbeta'd.

"People once believed that when someone dies, a crow carries their soul to the land of the dead. But sometimes, something so bad happens that a terrible sadness is carried with it and the soul can't rest. Then sometimes, just sometimes, the crow can bring that soul back to put the wrong things right."

The Crow, 1994

Sunnydale, 1998.

Rain fell from the grey cast sky like nature's tears washing away the sorrow of those left behind. It was an intimate assemblage of three youths staring distantly at the grave before them, a woman of refinement keeping motherly watch over them as they paid their respects and lastly, an attending priest more figurehead than spiritual advisor. In truth, he was stranger to them all with his ages old words barely heard over the autumn shower. The young friends took turns laying flowers to rest on the freshly disturbed soil, a single white daisy each to represent the light stripped from them too soon. Roses would have been obscene given the history and red never failed to turn their stomachs. Having attended quite a few family related funerals, Xander bravely went first followed by Willow and finally Buffy. Joyce stood dutifully off to one side, greeting them each with a tender hug as they returned from the sad task. She gave a nod, dismissing the attending priest who gratefully accepted the unspoken request and hurried off with large strides to escape the rain.

"I know how much he meant to you. Please, take all the time you need. I'll be waiting in the car when you're ready to go. Okay honey?" Buffy nodded slightly and with a departing hug and kiss to Buffy's forehead, Joyce retreated to dryer space.

The gang stood silent, watching the rain beat down on the grave and modest headstone.

"Shouldn't we have sent him home?" Willow asked, uncertain as she dabbed the dampness from her eyes with an already sopping tissue. "Not that this isn't nice. It is, for a funeral. But still, wouldn't he want to be home, for family and friends?"

"At least he has company," Xander noted somberly, glancing at the neighboring headstone of Jenny Calendar. There was a long uncomfortable pause, no one knowing where to go from there.

Buffy shrugged helplessly, her face holding long shadows of despair. "I called the only phone number I found at his place for the Council. They were too busy scrambling for a replacement to care about… arrangements. They wired some money to the emergency account, just enough to cover the cost of his burial." Buffy let out a tired sigh.

"Emergency account?" Xander smirked. "Leave it to G-man to think of everything."

Buffy returned a weak smirk. "He made me the default beneficiary or whatever."

"What'd you tell your mom?" Willow asked.

"Not much. That it was a private donation from the museum he used to work at. I remember her mentioning how that happened once. I think she's withholding Q&A 'til things get a little less grievely."

"What happens now?"

"I don't know," Buffy mumbled.

"For starters, I say we get some payback on Dead Boy and go repeato and Bleach for Brains and his Elvira Reject gal pal."

"Xander, we've talked about this," Willow pleaded gently, "We need to know what that statue thing is before…"

"Who cares? Giles is dead. Dead! Do you get that? And we know who did the honors. I say it's high time for stakes and holy water all around!"

"We don't know where they are, Xander. And even if we did, we sure as heck can't go charging in there like… like…"

"Superheroes? Why not? Isn't that what Buffy is, a superhero minus the cheesy cape and insignia on her chest but hero just the same?"

"I'm no hero," Buffy challenged. "If I was, I'd have saved him."

"You tried, Buffy." Willow insisted.

"Not hard enough."

"You know that's not true."

"Maybe it is," Xander agreed indignantly, much to the shock of his best friend. "Maybe if she'd dusted Angel that day in the mall Miss Calendar would still be alive and we wouldn't be knee high in mud, wearing our Sunday best, making tracks all over Giles' grave."

"That's not fair, Xander!" Willow objected.

"No, it's not. Fair is a sun shiny day. Fair is sleeping in on Sunday. Fair is Giles alive and kicking in research mode, nose deep in a book not six feet under being worm food. I'll tell you what's fair. Fair is sweet, sweet revenge which I intend to get and soon!"

"Revenge may be fair," Buffy said softly, her eyes never leaving the etched name of her dead Watcher on the headstone. "But it's what put Giles here and I'll be damned if I'll lose you too. Even if you hate me for it."

A large crow dived swiftly from the clouds above, swooping in to perch upon the headstone. It squawked rudely at the mourners, hopping agitatedly along the edge, taunting them away.

"I'm sorry," Buffy said softly.

"We know," Willow responded sadly.

"I wasn't talking to you." She reached up, unfastened the petite cross necklace from her neck and placed it on the sodden soil. She flattened her hand to the mud and bowed her head, as if in silent prayer. Then she rose and walked away without another word. Xander and Willow exchanged a glance and followed along after her, the sound of the crow's call echoing through the persistent patter of rain. It continued to sound its objections, watching until the trespassers had entered the car and driven away.

Finally alone, the black bird went quiet and began to peck at the headstone, drumming a chaotic beat. A minute passed as the crow hammered noisily, joined by the dull thud of something beneath the soil. More subterranean thuds followed, sending ripples along the puddles above. The crows pecking grew more insistent as the ground began to swell and rise. All went silent when a hand breached earth.

Cold, within and throughout. The dirt soiled figure shivered uncontrollably as he stared down at the hole in the ground from which he'd emerged. It was a biting cold, one that made the steaming pit an inviting embrace from the ceaseless rain. A large crow squawked, skipping sideways along the headstone. The man's gaze fell to read the inscription. With the name came a flood of memories, stained ruby red with brilliant pain.

Grief held a scent; that of store-bought, chemically-preserved flowers resting upon freshly disturbed soil that barely masked the stink of inhumanity that buried his beloved. But it was when Rupert felt his fingers tenderized that pain finally held a scent and certainly a flavor. His face hadn't faired much better, becoming the focal point to the beast's relentless frustration. Sticky copper oozed under his tongue, forming an acrid paste of blood and milled teeth. He'd have shattered his jaw if not for his training. Heavy and swollen from fractures too abundant to count, his hand had finally numbed, though it was likely a symptom of succumbing to shock. The other holes of carved flesh burned still, some meaty and blistering, some charred beyond recognition, all agony. But no matter the torment, no words pleading for mercy would ever pass Giles' lips. Physical pain was controllable and therefore wasted on him. It was the mental that hurt most. Unfortunately weakness of the body inevitably weakens the mind and Rupert was helpless to fend off slipping into madness. His tormentor knew his art well and Giles' psyche was suffering for it.

“I wouldn't even give her the satisfaction of being turned, Rupert.” Angelus chuckled in fond recollection. “Hell, I didn't even bother to taste her. Sour cream, tart and curdled. Still, why waste all those warm, tight nooks and curves, right?” He rocked his groin crudely before Giles face, moaning a mockery of sadistic ecstasy.

Silently, Rupert clung to the facts, the police report forever etched in his shattered mind. Jenny died from sever trauma to the spine, ‘nearly decapitted' was the term mistyped on the death certificate. These were nothing more than the morbid embellishments of a soulless assassin… a coward trying futilely to break him.

“I hollowed her out, lukewarm skin raw and peeling back with every thrust. She screamed, of course. Irritating noise. It wasn't until she called out your name that I really began to enjoy myself. Then at that critical moment… you know the one, right? Oh wait, that's right, you don't. Now that is a crying shame. You never got a poke of that Kalderash bitch. Of course you could have a conjugal visit at the morgue. Hell, I might even pay for a front row seat to that one.”

Rupert spat through the bloody paste gathering think along his lips. “Lies. All lies.”

The bird's call interrupted Giles' waking nightmare but the pain continued. His fingers ached and face stung. And the cold... it never left him, a permanent frost he was hesitantly adapting to. The crow took flight and all the Watcher could think to do was follow. So he did, staggering over his numb legs and deadened feet. He collapsed, sending water splashing. The bird soared by, circling back and squawking its orders. Giles reached out for a nearby tombstone and climbed to his feet as the crow flew on.

The exercise continued for what seemed like endless blocks. Giles would falter only to have the bird demand him to rise. He would and managed to increase the distance between each pitfall. Once confident of his stride, he glanced to the rural setting surrounding him. He didn't know where he was, though the landscape seemed hauntingly familiar. Then he caught sight of a car, the windows decorated in a school spirited, "Sunnydale Razorbacks Rule".

The nightmare returned.

“I'd never lie to you, Rupert. Our relationship is built on a solid foundation of trust and mutual respect. Trust me when I say you're better off that I took care of your little gypsy slut for you. But I think Buffy deserves something more, don't you? Extra special treatment worthy of a Slayer.”

“Never!” He roared futilely.

“Naw… just not enough to really sell it. I think he's faking.” There was a sick cockiness in the hum of Angelus' voice. “Maybe he needs more encouragement.”

“The more you hurt him, the more the Slayer's going to return the favor tenfold.” The blond vampire came up from behind Angelus.

“Then I better make sure she never knows the colorful details.” Angelus smirked. "How is my ex, by the way?"

"She bought it. So eager to make friends, that one. She thinks I'm here to keep Rupert breathing, lying in wait to betray you with her grand entrance. Too bad Buffy and her cronies will be storming the wrong castle tonight at the opposite end of town, leaving us an evening of unspoiled entertainment courtesy of the Council."

"Sorry to disappoint, Spike, but Rupert's being a might stubborn. Seems his lips are sealed. Any thoughts to making them spread like the thighs of his Slayer?"

“While I appreciate a good torture as much as the next bloke, there are better ways to get him to talk." Spike suggested as he knelt down before the slumping Watcher. "Gratifying ways." He reached out and gripped Giles chin, forcing his head back. "My, my, what a pretty mouth he has."

"Learned lips begging to whisper tender secrets," sang a feminine voice from behind Giles. "He wishes to commune with you, my beloved. Give him a listen, deep and choking."

"I think you're on to something, pet. Needs his mouth warmed up, is all," Spike began to unbuckle his belt.

"Daddy should play as well. He's such a good listener, he is. The hearted hears the beats with a thrust and a crush and a tear…" Dru danced into view, twirling her encouragements the vampires to defile their hostage.

"Nothing. You'll get nothing from me," Giles whimpered, closing his eyes to shut out the scene of naked beasts with brutal intentions.

Angel shoved him from the chair to the cold floor. An instant later, sharpened nails scraped down his back as his shirt was torn from him.

"That's where your wrong, Rupert." Angel chuckled.

Giles' body jerked as his trousers were shredded along with his boxers. It took seconds for the pair to strip him bare, leaving him shivering on the chilled stone floor.

"We'll get something from you."

"Naughty, naughty Watcher," Dru scolded. "Blinding eyes can't see what beautiful prezzies Daddy and my wicked boy give." She slapped Giles hard, clawing nails marking his cheek with the attack. "Open your eyes and receive your gifts."

Giles refused her orders and more slaps stung his cheek and split his lip.

"Open your eyes or I will open them for you, carving away one lid at a time."

His eyes blinked open, stinging with sweat and tears.

"Such a lovely green," Dru smiled, cupping his chin as she placed a deceptively gentle kiss to his lips. "Eyes intending to see things."

He watched as Angelus and Spike stepped up to take their place at either side of her, their naked pale bodies tracked with webs of faint bluish-purple veins directing his attention to their burgeoning erections.

"And they will see such beautiful things."

Angelus raked his fingers through Giles hair, fisting the locks tightly to hold him steady as Spike moved in, smirking.

"Open wide, Rupert, and let's have a look at that smile."

Giles' arms stretched wide as he reared back, howling out in agony. His body wrought stiff with the inundating memories, reliving every instant.

"That'll do, Rupes." Spike panted, amused as he withdrew to chorus of Giles choking for air and heaving. The vampire lit up a cigarette as Dru snaked an arm around his waist, admiring the results.

"It'll have to," Angel agreed, separating himself from Giles with a frustrated shove. Giles spilled to the floor, his body weak and battered near death. "We're running out of time and I'm running out of patience."

"But he makes such lovely music, like spoiled children begging the rod. He wishes for more, Daddy."

"What'd you say, Rupert? Shall I let Dru have her way with you or are you ready to talk?" Angelus asked.

"I think we broke him." Spike chuckled with mock disappointment. "They just don't make Watchers like they used to."

"He's not dead yet." Angelus reached down and hefted Giles to his feet long enough to throw him into the chair once again. "Not until I say." Angelus gripped Giles throat, forcing his head stead as he leaned in close.

"Moment of truth, Rupert. I'm going to kill you. It's going to be the bright spot of my day besides fucking you into a bloody pulp. But you can die slow or fast. It's you're call."

Giles eyes blinked open with a vacant stare of desperation.

"Tell me how to wake Acathla and I can make the pain stop."

"Please," Giles whispered, tears streaming a path along his bloodied cheek.

Dru clapped with giddy delight as she and Spike moved in closer to hear the tale the Watcher had to tell.

"To wake Acathla..."

"Yes," Angelus urged.

"You must perform the spell..."

"Yes, yes..." Dru repeated hopefully.

"In a tu-tu, Pillock!" Giles spat defiantly, his lips curling to a satisfied grin. Angelus released Giles and stood up, fuming mad.

"No... no... NO!" Dru's hysterical objections grew louder until she lunged forward, lashing out wildly with her claws. Spike tackled her, wrestling her back a few steps but it was too late. The damage was done.

Giles felt the flesh of his neck give way as the hot milk of blood pulsed down along his bruised skin. He couldn't breath, gurgling as a shower of red spurted from the gaping wound. The pain became a murmur as his body surrendered quickly to shock.

"Don't you die on me. Don't you fucking die!" Angelus roared as he tried to damn the fountain of blood with his hand. "Tell me!" He shook Giles violently. "Tell me how to wake Acathla!"

Giles eye lids grew heavy, his mind floating in an eerie fog as the irate face of the vampire phase in and out of view. He smiled as merciful sleep finally embraced him.

Giles collapsed to his knees, sobbing ragged breaths as he lurched forward, fingers clawing and pounding furiously at the stone beneath him. Only the crow's call pulled him from his darkness, a beacon of determined focus. He glanced up to see the bird hopping along the floor towards him, making him aware of where they'd ended up.

It was the mansion, reduced to charred and skeletal remains. But it enough for him to recognize the site of his torture and murder at the hands of the scourge of Europe. That's when Giles knew why he'd come back.

"Vengeance is a living thing."

part 2...