Running was seriously understated. He’d always been of that particular opinion, but now he would swear it on his mother’s grave.
Where ever that was.
Running… running could save lives.
He leaned over a little further, ducking down under the height of the parked, abandoned cars that he was cutting through, and for a few seconds his fleet-footed flight became a stumbling scramble. At the end of one row he twisted to the side and began to hare along the next.
Only when he’d reached the end of this one did he pause and sink to the ground for a few precious seconds, gathering his strength again and listening for some sound over the gasp of his own breath, which he was trying desperately to slow and make a little quieter.
Because if something or someone wanted to find him at the moment, then all it would take was a sharp pair of ears.
The sound of feet; quieter that his own dash, but still coming his way none-the-less.
“Damn it,” he snarled, forcing himself back to his feet. He’d counted on a longer break than that.
ARR! ARR! ARR! ARR
“Yes, that’d be good, thanks.” Giles put the phone back down and heaved a sigh, rolling his head to one side, and rubbing at the crick in his neck, frowned to himself.
“Giles?” Buffy spoke from behind him, and he spun.
“What?” he snapped and she winced. It was something that he regretted the second he’d done it, but damned if he could help the fact that he was getting irritable; or slightly concerned for that matter. Ethan had said after all that he would be back by four and it was edging towards seven. He had every bloody right to be getting annoyed. Although not to be taking it out on Buffy, he reminded himself with a quick glance at the young woman who was standing at the opposite end of the hallway.
He took a deep, steadying breath and closed his eyes for a heartbeat, “Sorry, that was uncalled for. I’m just a little wound up, is all. What was it?”
She crossed the space between them, and held out his phone, which was flashing up with the missed call symbol. He pressed a few buttons to call up the details.
Of course it would be Ethan, wouldn’t it, he mussed. The one call that he’d been waiting for would have to be the one that he missed. Quickly he rung through to the voice mailbox, and put in his pin. Ethan’s voice sounded slightly harsher than usual, ragged as though he’d been exerting himself, and a little annoyance crept through, too.
“Bloody hell, Rupert; not much use you having a bloody mobile if you never have the damn thing actually with you. Look, here’s hopping that it doesn’t take too long for you to get this. And … ah, if you could pick me up from the old factory on Blain that would be excellent, too. I’ll explain later.”
He went back into the details, to check the time. The message had only been left five minutes ago, which was good. To a point, anyway; since it meant that Ethan couldn’t have had enough time for even him to get into trouble since making the call.
Though what had kept him from making the call until now on the other hand had to be something reasonably serious. What was it that he’d said? I’ll explain later? What exactly was there that had to be explained?
He remembered the wound that hadn’t healed, and he tried to tell himself that it was nothing to do with that.
Blain was a good fifteen minute drive from here, too, so how that hell Ethan had wound up all the way over there was anybodies guess. He closed his eyes for half a minute, and took a steadying breath, before he rung back. The phone was answered on the second ring, and for a few seconds all that he could here was the sound of someone trying to get their panting under control.
“Rupert? I sincerely hope that’s actually you.”
He rolled his eyes, although he knew that no-one could see it, “Yes, Ethan, it’s me. I’ll be there in fifteen, if the roads stay clear.”
“Thanks. Yes, and, ah, Ripper, one more thing?”
“I know you’re handy in a fight and all, but you may want to bring the blond tormenter with you.”
“What the hell...”
“Like I said,” Ethan cut him off, “I’ll explain later. All you need to know is that we’ve got trouble on the streets.”
“Right,” he trusted Ethan that much. If the other didn’t think that he needed the extra worry for the moment, then he would trust that judgment, too.
“I’ll… we’ll be there shortly.”
ARR! ARR! ARR! ARR
Closing his eyes he tilted his head back against an old table that was covered with dust, not caring for the moment that it would get everywhere. All that he could feel was the blood pounding through his veins, and the musty, damp smell of the building invaded his nose and made his eyes water. The only reason that he’d ducked into the old factory was because the old magic woven into the building would make it difficult for anything passing with a sixth sense to pick up on him.
And, by the time that he’d made it here, having put just enough distance between him and his pursuer he hadn’t been able to go much further.
Trying not to think, he raised his hand and pinched at the bridge of his nose. He’d have fought, but they were impervious to any hasty magic. The old magics, now they could affect anything, but that kind of thing took days to prepare in the best of cases. The more serious spells could take anywhere between a year, to prepare and cast, to as little as a month.
It seemed as though there was only one real question left unanswered. That was, of course, which would kill him first? Would it be this wonderful, freshly dangerous world, or would it be Ripper himself?
It just went to show, really. Whenever his instinct tried to have a say in matters, he would definitely be better off going against it.
It was such a pity that he hadn’t come to that conclusion any earlier than this.