Summary: Giles can't get Ethan out of his mind.
Disclaimer: I claim no ownership over these characters. I am merely borrowing them from Joss et al.
Distribution: My site, my LJ, summer_of_giles, the usual lists, anyone with previous permission. Anyone else - just ask.
Feedback: Yes please! It makes me happy and keeps me writing.
Thanks to kallie_kat & wickedfox for the beta.
Note: Written for summer_of_giles 2007.
Giles was grateful that Buffy had an early class the next day, waiting until he was sure that she would have left to call the room she shared with Willow.
"Hello?" Willow tiredly answered.
"Willow? Buffy isn't there, is she?" Giles asked.
"Giles," Willow sat up in her bed, "is everything okay? Are you still in Sunnydale? Buffy said you were going to go after Ethan."
"Willow, calm down. Yes, I'm still here. I didn't mean to alarm Buffy, but she can't help me in this situation. However, you can," Giles said.
"Me?" Willow squeaked. "What can I do? I don't know anything about breaking and entering."
"No, but you do know magick and how to hack into government files," Giles reminded her.
"You want me to hack into the Initiative's files to find out more about what they did to Ethan, don't you?"
"If you don't mind," Giles confirmed.
"Mind? Not at all. My hacking skills were starting to get a little rusty with all of the schoolwork and magick studies," Willow eagerly said.
"Wonderful," Giles said, breathing a sigh of relief. "Could you bring your laptop over here and begin working on it as soon as possible?"
"Of course. I just need to grab a quick shower and I'll be right over," Willow said.
"You don't have any classes today?" Giles asked, knowing how important Willow's studies were to her.
"You're in luck. My only class was canceled because my professor got sick."
"Excellent." Giles paused, realizing how that sounded. "You know what I mean."
"Yep, no worries. I'll get cleaned up and see you there in under an hour."
"Thank you, Willow. If I'm not here, just let yourself in and you can get to work. I have a couple of errands that I need to run."
"Errands? I thought Spike totaled your car," Willow said.
"That's errand number one. To pick up a rental," Giles agreed.
"Good thinking. Okay, see you soon," Willow said.
"I'll see you shortly." Giles hung up the phone.
He looked at the list before him and crossed off 1. Ask Willow to hack into the Initiative's mainframe.
Giles cringed as he looked at number two on his list. Gritting his teeth, he dialed Xander's number. He was surprised when Xander answered right away, alert, instead of groggily responding after several rings.
"Hey Giles," Xander said.
"Good morning, Xander. How did you know it was me?"
"Caller ID. Plus, you're the only one I know who would call me this early," Xander answered.
"Yes, I was rather surprised you answered so quickly," Giles admitted.
"You just barely caught me. I'm on my way to work," Xander said.
"Oh, right, I'd nearly forgotten. Is there any chance you could pick me up and drop me at the car rental place on Main Street?" Giles asked.
"If I leave right now I'll be cutting it close, but sure, I can do it. Or would you rather just use my car while I'm at work?"
"No, I need to go out of town for a few days, so a rental will be best," Giles said.
"Something up?" Xander asked.
"Nothing you need worry about. If we're going to do this, you should probably leave now. I'll see you shortly."
"Sure thing, see ya in a few," Xander said, hanging up the phone.
Giles left a quick note for Willow, letting her know he'd be back in a couple of hours and what she could start looking for in the Initiative's files before heading out to wait for Xander.
An hour and a half later, Giles returned to his flat with a bagful of magical ingredients and a rental car in his parking space, to find Willow sitting at his desk with her laptop open, busily taking notes on what she had found.
"Ah, Willow, thank you for coming over so quickly," he greeted her. "Have you found anything yet?"
"Hey, Giles," Willow said, smiling up at him. "I actually just got through their security system about fifteen minutes ago, but once I got in, it was pretty easy to locate Ethan."
"Really?" Giles asked, barely keeping his excitement out of his voice. He set down his purchases on the counter and moved to look over Willow's shoulder.
"Yep. For a military operation, their firewalls are incredibly easy to get through. You'd think they'd work harder to keep their secrets hidden."
"Willow..." Giles interrupted, willing her to get on with it.
"Right, sorry," Willow brushed a lock of hair behind her ear. "So, anyway, Ethan is being held at a secret base in the Nevada desert." She paused and turned to look at Giles. "Although, really, that's a pretty predictable place to hide a secret base. Can anyone say Area 51?"
Giles simply stared, narrowing his eyes at her.
"Right, keep the commentary to myself, got it. From what I can tell, the Initiative has different bases with different purposes. The one here seems to be devoted to studying and experimenting on demons. The one in Nevada is devoted to, um, magick practitioners."
Giles gulped. "A-an entire base devoted to ex-experimenting on magick users?"
Willow solemnly nodded. "I really don't think it's a good idea for you to go after Ethan alone," she said. "What if you get caught and they keep you and start experimenting on you, too?"
"Then I'll just have to be careful not to get caught," Giles coldly said.
"No!" Giles cut her off. "Do not even think of suggesting that you come with me. Any of you. I will not risk your lives to save mine, or Ethan's. It is my fault he is in there and I will get him out."
"I wasn't about to volunteer to follow you into the breeches. I'm not an idiot. But I can still help." When it looked like Giles was going to object, she said, "From here. I can help from good old Sunnydale."
Giles frowned. "How?"
Willow perked up, glad he was going to at least hear her plan. "I figure that once you get through the magical barrier they have up - oh, right, I didn't tell you yet, since they're experimenting with magick, they have a barrier up to keep any loose magick inside the facility, so as not to alert anyone as to where they are. Also, the place is cloaked; you have to be a demon, witch or warlock to sense it. Anyone who stumbles across it gets captured. Although I'm guessing they've found some way around that for their employees."
Giles breathed a sigh of relief, momentarily worried that it would be difficult to find. "Not a problem for me, then. Please continue."
"I don't think any of the staff practice magick, at least not naturally. From the little that I've been able to read so far, they're trying to extract and manufacture what makes a person capable of performing magick."
"I just bought the ingredients to help me prepare a small arsenal of spells," Giles informed Willow. "I won't be walking in there empty handed."
"Anything I can help with?" Willow eagerly asked.
"Perhaps. For the initial preparation. I'll need to finish all of the spells myself, to give them the most impact, you understand."
"Of course," Willow nodded her head, knowing the spells would pack a bigger punch with Giles' final touches. "Back to what I can do from here, though... Since I'm already tapped into their computer system, I can knock out their power."
"From here? Really?"
"Yep. Having everything computerized really does make it easier for someone like me to help take them down. They're military and assume that sheer gun power can stop intruders. Besides, since the place is magically cloaked, it's made them a bit cocky, I think."
"Good plan," Giles admitted.
"I'll see about getting you some night vision goggles," Willow offered. "I think Xander might have some that he can loan you."
"Excellent. Care to help me get started with the spells, then?" Giles asked, feeling better having some kind of plan in place.
"You bet, mister," Willow beamed.