written by Ness
Rating: FRM for language
Spoilers: Parts of season 5 of AtS and season 7 of BtVS
Summary: Giles and Angel come to an understanding.
Thanks: Thanks to Tara Keezer for beta'ing this one for me. She made this a much better fic than it would
have been without her. As always, any mistakes are mine. I'm not sure exactly where this one came from, but I'm
blaming it on Kerrie. ;-) But I do owe her many thanks. I've said before she's my muse in human form and that
still holds true.
Author's Notes: WARNING: This is angsty, not that that's any kind of surprise considering who wrote it. *G*
Feedback Author: Ness
Giles walked out of the pub, automatically feeling in his pocket for the
stake he habitually kept there. As he moved down the rain-slickened street,
he felt someone watching him. He didn't slow or in any way change his pace,
but he surreptitiously observed his surroundings.
He couldn't see anything, but that didn't stop the nervous tingles running
up and down his spine, causing the hair on the back of his neck to stand on
end. He continued on his way, ever alert for the slightest movement that
could constitute a threat.
* * * * *
A dark figure emerged from the shadows to watch Giles continue on. Angel
sighed, and walked in the opposite direction from Giles.
With his hands shoved into his pockets and shoulders hunched against the
chill of the night, Angel contemplated this latest development. For five
years he had traveled across America and Europe, retracing the steps he'd
trod as Angelus. He'd never been sure if it had been one more way to atone
for his past misdeeds or simply a supreme act of masochism.
Either way, ending up in village where he'd grown up and died seemed to be a
fitting end to his journey - as did the fact of Giles appearing in the same
place. Finding the Watcher here meant facing one of the greatest mistakes,
and regrets, of his life. He wasn't sure there would ever be enough
repentance for what he'd done to the man.
He just didn't know where he was supposed to go from here. He'd lost almost
everyone he'd ever cared about in the last battle with Wolfram & Hart, along
with the dream that had sustained him for years.
The promise of humanity.
Angel shook his head at the foolishness of that dream. He should have known
that the Powers-That-Be had something else in mind with that prophecy of
theirs. They'd never done anything without confusing the hell out of it.
The prophecy Wes had found was too simple for it to be true. Of course,
hindsight is always twenty-twenty.
The vampire's throat threatened to close up at the thought of Wesley. The
ex-Watcher had given his life to defeat the Senior Partners. His eyes
filled as the names of the others came to mind.
So many dead or gone for good.
Even Illyria had been destroyed by the demon horde and he still wasn't sure
how *that* had happened.
The only one left was Spike.
What the Powers had done next had sent both vampires into a tailspin.
* * * * *
Giles opened the door of the small cottage where he'd lived for the past
four-and-a-half years. He closed the door and, after a moment's hesitation,
he locked it. Without bothering to turn on the lights, he made his way
through the house with sure-footed confidence.
He prepared for bed, and as he drifted off to sleep, he wondered what sort
of trouble the person watching him tonight would bring.
He then wondered if it might be someone from the Council, from Buffy, but he
discarded that idea almost immediately. If Buffy wished to contact him
after all these years, she would do so without games. Though she had many
faults, an overblown sense of pretense was not one of them.
Sleep overtook him before he could ponder further.
* * * * *
Angel had been watching Giles for almost a week now and he was fairly sure
that he hadn't noticed him after that first time. Why the hell was he
watching Giles every night? The demon inside raged against the unrelenting
melancholy that bore down on him like the weight of the world bore down on
Atlas. The brooding he'd done in L.A. was lightweight compared to what he
was doing now.
He'd been thinking of all he'd lost and what he had to look forward to. The
demon had been whispering to him, the first time it had tried in awhile.
The evil that lived inside him felt more confident than it had in years. It
whispered to him at night, the dark giving its words power that they never
had in the light of day. It reminded him that the dream of humanity was a
fool's pipedream he would never have.
The demon's whispers followed him into him into his dreams, dreams filled
with the exhilaration and power of the kill. He still remembered the
rapture he'd felt as the life's blood of an innocent had slid down his
throat with the ease and smoothness of a fine, aged wine.
In his waking hours, he could tell himself how wrong what he'd done was.
But his dreams never failed to remind him of who he'd been and what he'd
Angel would wake up, drenched and shivering, fighting the urge to do what
the demon wanted. He never had the heart to tell those closest to him that
having a soul didn't preclude him from being what he had been. Buffy,
Cordelia, Wesley and the others simply assumed that he wouldn't be able to
repeat Angelus' deeds because he had a soul.
But a soul didn't stop evil -- human beings were living proof of this -- and
they either hadn't or didn't want to think about that, so he never disabused
them of their illusions. The daily battle with his demon had never been as
difficult as it was right now.
Angel felt wetness on his face and realized that it had begun to rain hard
enough to reach him beneath the overhand where he'd sought shelter. He
Just as he was about to return to the room he'd taken, he saw Giles leaving
the tavern. He could tell by the older man's slumped body posture that
something was wrong. For a moment he was tempted to go to him and try to
'You fool,' the demon inside chided him coldly. 'Why would he *ever* want
Angel drew in a deep, unneeded, breath and acknowledged the rightness of the
brutal question. Giles would never want his help. He followed at a
reasonable distance and observed as the Watcher let himself into his small
cottage. Angel wondered what Giles would say if he knew that he was living
on the same spot where Liam had been born and Angelus had killed his family?
The vampire sat down in a secluded spot within sight of the cottage and
continued his self-inflicted punishment for sins only he could remember.
* * * * *
Giles sat in the armchair by the fireplace, sipping tea and contemplating
his next move. He'd put up wards around the cottage this morning; tiring of
whatever game the person watching him was playing. He had felt eyes on him
for days now; it was time to bring it out into the open.
All he had to do was trigger the spell he'd embedded in the wards and
whoever was watching him would be compelled to show himself. The hesitation
he felt wasn't something readily explained. Perhaps it was fear of who it
might be or why they were here. His mind continued to go back to Buffy and
the Council. But if Buffy wanted to speak to him, why would she have this
person hide himself?
He sighed; he was right back where he began. Raising his hand, he prepared
to trigger the spell that would end this farce. Before he could finish, he
was interrupted by a knock on the door. He rose and cautiously opened it.
* * * * *
Angel stood in Giles' doorway, rain dripping into his eyes.
"I never did get a chance to ask you something," Angel began without
preamble. "I know you were pissed at me when we took over Wolfram & Hart,
but is that really why you refused to help Fred?" He looked at the Watcher
Giles stared at Angel, trying to process this bizarre turn of events. Why
was the vampire here? And why in the bloody hell was he rehashing events
that had taken place over five years ago. "Excuse me?"
"I want to know why you wouldn't help Fred. You, Buffy and the others are
supposed to be all about helping the innocent; I guess I just didn't realize
that you got to decide who was innocent and who wasn't." Bitterness coated
"Why are you here, Angel?" Giles asked as calmly as he could manage. The
creature standing before him, dripping and furious was not the Angel he
knew. There was a rawness, and wildness, in him that hadn't been present
before, not even as Angelus. Angelus had been sadistic and cruel, but he
had been in control. The - Giles wasn't sure what to call him any more -
man, for want of a better word, held himself barely in check and that
worried the Watcher more than he cared to admit. This Angel was
unpredictable and that made him extremely dangerous.
* * * * *
Angel saw the confusion, and expertly concealed fear, flit across Giles'
face and he suddenly felt older than his years. He was confused and angry,
but that didn't excuse frightening a man who had more cause than most to
fear him. The vampire shook his head wearily and turned away.
"Angel?" Giles' voice stopped him.
"I'm not the one who Shanshued; Spike was," Angel said quietly, his words
barely loud enough to be heard over the rain. He knew that Giles was aware
of the prophecy, because Wesley had told the Council of it in an effort to
So immersed in his own pain, Angel almost didn't hear Giles speak.
Angel spun around and looked at Giles, wondering if he'd heard right.
"I said, I know that Spike is the one who became human," Giles said quietly.
Angel slid down the wall of the cottage, unmindful of the rain pelting down
upon him. "How?" was the next question. The answer to that would shake his
foundation even further.
* * * * *
Giles stared as his words impacted, making the vampire flinch as though from
a physical blow. He resisted the urge to invite Angel inside. He was still
very wary of what was happening.
Instead, he pulled a chair closer to the open doorway and sat down. "I know
Spike is human because his change is what precipitated my departure from the
Council." He watched as shock spread over the ex-Champion's face. He knew
the feeling well. "Your next questions will most likely be 'what happened'
Giles drew in a deep breath and began.
//"Buffy, you can't leave, you are needed here." He cursed as he watched
his Slayer haphazardly throwing clothes into a suitcase. "What about the
Slayers who look to you for help and guidance?" The results of Willow's
spell to turn all potentials into Slayers had been disconcerting, to say the
least. There had been several who hadn't handled the change well at all and
others who had used their powers - well, to say unwisely would be putting it
Those who were left, when found, looked to Buffy for teaching and support.
Even though Faith had stayed to help, Buffy was the one who was legendary in
her exploits and experience.
"I have to go, Giles. He needs me." Buffy never paused in her packing.
Any other time, the man standing across from her might have admired her
single-mindedness, but this time he was only confused and heading to angry.
"Why, Buffy? Why does he need *you*?"
Buffy finally stopped and looked at him for the first time since she'd
announced her plans to leave for America. "I have to go to L.A., Giles.
Spike sounded on the verge of hysteria, and that's not like him."
"How do you know it's not an act?" The question was met with fury.
"He would never do that," she exploded. "He wouldn't lie about this."
Giles merely lifted a brow in mute question.
"He wouldn't," she reiterated. "He said that the prophecy that we all
thought meant Angel was actually him." She stopped and, for the first time,
lost the harried look she'd been wearing, only to have it replaced with a
look of wonder.
"You're truly in love with him," Giles said, his voice accusing despite his
efforts to the contrary.
Buffy hesitated for a moment before shrugging. "I guess I am." She turned
back to her suitcase as she continued, "I never let myself admit it because
it seemed wrong on so many levels, and," she rushed on before he could
interrupt, "it was. But I've been talking to him for almost a month on the
phone, and he's changed, Giles, he really has."
Giles exhaled a deep breath he'd taken in an effort to calm himself. "So
you are ready to forgive everything?"
Buffy stopped once again. "He's not the only one who was wrong about what
they did, Giles." She looked at her Watcher and he saw genuine regret in
her eyes. "I was wrong too."
With that, she snapped her suitcase shut and headed for the door.
"You really plan to leave all your responsibilities behind to go hold his
Buffy sighed, and never turning, answered. "I have to do this. I can't let
"What about those whom you're letting down here, Buffy? What about those
who depend on you?"
Buffy hefted her suitcase a little higher. "You can handle it Giles, you're
good at handling things."
"If you do this, Buffy, I won't be here when you return," Giles said with a
She turned slowly. "You're leaving me again?" she asked carefully.
He gave one, short nod.
"For my own good, I suppose?" she sneered disdainfully before turning to the
"No," he answered quietly as he watched her leave, "for mine."//
* * * * *
"That was five years ago," Giles finished softly. "I've not been back." He
looked at the vampire leaning against the side of the house as rain pelted
Angel's face to run down in rivulets like tears. Angel's eyes had closed
partway through Giles' narrative and now the Watcher wondered if he had even
heard all of it.
"They never asked you for help?" Angel asked, letting Giles know he'd been
"Only once." A shaking hand ran through gray hair. "Willow had written for
information; Buffy sent a note immediately after the letter informing me
that, since I had, in her words, 'taken myself out of the game', my help was
no longer wanted or appreciated." He didn't try to contain the acrimony in
his voice. His eyes jerked to the vampire when he heard a half-hidden
snort. "You think that was funny?" he asked slowly.
"If you're asking, do I think what they did to you was funny, then, no, I
don't." Angel opened his eyes. "I do, however, think that Buffy's
blindness verges on moronic, and that struck me as amusing." He closed his
"She was blind to the fact that you are too much of a warrior to ever take
yourself 'out of the game'. Hell, the only way you'll quit is when they
carry you out feet first." Angel shook his head at the sheer obtuseness of
"And how would you know that?" Curious in spite of himself, Giles couldn't
stop the question.
"Like recognizes like, Giles." He continued as he felt, more than saw, the
other man's body stiffen in outrage. "And before you get pissed off, I only
meant that one warrior knows another warrior." An edge crept into his next
words. "I would never *dream* of comparing you to me - you, after all, are
a hero, I'm just a bloodsucking vampire." Angel swallowed the bitterness
and began to push himself away from the wall.
"You never did tell me why you are here," Giles asked, stopping the vampire's departure.
Angel looked at him a moment before settling back down against the wall.
"Let's just say that I was reliving my history." He chuckled without mirth
at the shock on Giles' face. "No, that doesn't mean that I decided to
relive Angelus' glory days." He slicked his hair back against his scalp in
an effort to stem the water streaming down his face. "It only means that I'
m trying to learn, all over again, how to live with the demon inside me -
the one that will *always* be inside me." This time, when Angel stood to
leave, Giles did not try to stop him.
Somehow, they both knew that they would meet again and soon.
* * * * *
Giles sat in the doorway long after Angel's departure. The rain continued
to beat incessantly against the already saturated ground and he wondered if
there was some sort of message in the weather.
Never in his lifetime would he have thought that he would have sat in the
doorway of his home and confided to Angel, of all people. He stopped at
that thought. The hesitation he'd had about not being able to describe what
Angel was seemed to have faded away. The emotions he'd shown when
describing his confusion and pain seemed to have humanized him, for want of
a better word. The vampire no longer was a creature with no redeemable
Giles wasn't sure what exactly he thought of Angel now; he simply knew that
the horrifying memories he still held of the nights Angelus had tortured him
and killed Jenny had been tempered by the events of today.
He stood and moved the chair back to its original position and closed the
door; on both the rain and the memories.
He poured himself a stiff drink and walked into his bedroom and closed the
* * * * *
When Giles opened his door the following night after a single knock, he was
not surprised by the rain or by the sight of Angel sitting on his doorstep.
"How long have you been here?" the vampire asked without a greeting.
Giles dutifully pulled up a chair and sat down. "Four and a half years."
Angel shifted slightly and Giles wondered just how long the vampire had been
sitting there before his knock.
"Why Ireland? Why this village? Why this cottage?"
"Why the persistence?"
The verbal dueling could have gone on for much longer, but Angel seemed to
suddenly tire of it. "You know this is where I was born, right?"
"Yes, the village of your birth is recorded in your history at the Council."
"No, I mean *this* is where I was born." Angel could see that Giles still
didn't understand. "This land, this cottage - well, probably not *this*
cottage - but you get the idea; this is where I came into the world." His
mouth curled in self-derision. "Where the Scourge of Europe was born."
Giles couldn't speak for a moment. Why he'd chosen this village he couldn't
say. He'd known about it when he'd first found it; perhaps he'd done it
because something in him knew that Buffy wouldn't come anywhere near him as
long as he lived somewhere that had such close ties to Angel. Then again,
he didn't know why he thought she might avoid the village; sentimentality
had never been Buffy's strong suit.
But this cottage -- the cottage where he'd finally found some measure of
peace -- to know it was where his greatest enemy had been given life - well,
that was definitely an interesting turn of events.
Even that phrasing had him pausing. 'Interesting turn of events'? What was
happening here, and what did it mean for him?
* * * * *
Angel watched the expressions play over Giles' face and wondered what they
meant. Surprise, and a bit of curiosity, seemed to be the strongest.
The vampire felt the rain pelting him again and wondered if he would ever
dry out. But something wouldn't allow him to seek dryer shelter - not while
he had Giles listening, and talking, to him.
He looked out into the dark night and wondered at the events that had
brought him to this place. Never in a million years would he have thought
that coming home would have brought him face-to-face with Rupert Giles
"To answer your question about 'why here', it was simply because this felt
right; felt natural, for lack of a better explanation," the ex-Watcher said
Angel nodded. He was the last to question someone's decisions; he'd been
running for five years. Sometimes he wondered if he ever would stop.
"Angel, why are you asking these questions?" Giles asked softly.
The vampire wasn't ready to answer that question; mostly because he wasn't
sure of the answers himself. He only knew that something was happening here
that he desperately needed - both to soothe his soul and to keep the demon
that was dangerously close to the surface in check. But he wasn't ready to
tell Giles that.
He stood. "Good night, Giles." He turned and walked out into the darkness
and rain, leaving a bewildered man sitting behind him.
Angel continued to show up on Giles' doorstep for several more days, talking
about nothing and everything. The weather and landscape seemed to be his
two favorite topics. Giles wasn't sure where this was heading, but his
curiosity was aroused enough that he was willing to play Angel's
He still didn't trust him enough to invite him inside, however.
Giles was sitting in the armchair in his living room when he heard the
familiar singular knock. When he opened the door, he wasn't surprised to
see Angel sitting there. He was, however, surprised to see what looked like
a bottle of liquor resting on the stoop near the vampire.
"Got a couple of glasses?" Angel asked.
Giles nodded in bemusement and went back inside to fetch two glasses. He
handed them out to Angel and watched him pour two fingers of whiskey in each
glass. When the Englishman sipped the amber liquid, he was surprised to
find it to be a very good year.
"I got it from an old man in town," Angel replied to the unspoken question
"Excellent quality," Giles responded.
Angel nodded and quietly sipped his drink. Giles had resigned himself to
another nonsensical night when the vampire broke into his thoughts.
"Do you think that having a soul makes you incapable of evil?"
The man sitting inside the house choked on the drink he'd just taken. It
took several moments for him to catch his breath well enough to answer. "If
you're asking, do I think that evil can't done if you have a soul, then I'd
have to answer no."
"Then why does everyone assume that I'm as harmless as a neutered puppy
because I have a soul?" Angel looked at Giles for the first time that night
and the other man could see the turmoil in the vampire's eyes. "Why does
everyone assume that the demon isn't a problem as long as I have a soul?"
The man who considered Angelus his greatest enemy pondered that question for
a moment. "Perhaps they assume that the soul controls the demon."
"But it doesn't." Angel killed his drink and poured another one. "I fight
with it every single day, Giles. Every day I have to push it back into the
box where it lives and hope that I'm strong enough to keep it there. Every
time I drink blood, even if it's from a bag, the demon is allowed to come
out of that damned box; even if it's only for the length of time it takes to
swallow. The blood doesn't just keep me alive, Giles; it keeps the demon
alive too. The demon has power over me."
Giles sat quietly, waiting for him to continue.
"It knows my darkest desires. It knows things about me that no one else
does, or ever will. It uses the pleasure that I used to feel in the kill
against me." Angel leaned his head against the wall with a weary sigh. "No
matter how I tell myself that it's wrong, I can feel the exhilaration of the
kill in my dreams. I can't control my dreams, Giles and sometimes, it feels
like I'm going to lose my mind." His voice broke on a barely-concealed sob.
Giles sat quietly for a moment, trying to find the words that Angel seemed
to need. "But you control the demon every day. That must tell you
something about your own strength."
The vampire opened his eyes and turned his head to look at Giles. "I
control it now but I'm so damned tired. I just don't know how much longer I
can hold on."
"You can do this as long as you need to." Giles' could hear the utter
despair in Angel's voice and he wondered how he could possibly help him.
"You don't understand."
"You'd be surprised," Giles whispered; half to himself.
Angel stared out into the foggy night. He acknowledged Giles statement with
one nod and lifted his glass to his lips again.
They finished the bottle just before dawn.
* * * * *
Weeks went by and their meetings became something that both looked forward
to. Their talks turned from the paranormal and earth shattering to
literature and philosophy. They even discussed their favorite music and
Giles liked classics, both in movies and music, although Angel wasn't
surprised to hear that the Watcher had a rock-and-roll side too.
Angel, on the other hand, leaned more towards comedy and action; and his
music was definitely the hard-driving rock variety, Barry Manilow
Giles still hadn't invited him inside.
* * * * *
Giles opened his door one evening, finding Angel standing there as expected.
However, the vampire wore a serious, haunted look. "I'm sorry for what I
did to you as Angelus." Angel whispered huskily. He closed his eyes and
swallowed hard in order to finish. "I'm sorry for what I did to Jenny." He
abruptly turned and walked into the night.
"Angel?" Giles' voice stopped him. "I'm sorry I didn't help Fred." Angel
nodded once and resumed his steps.
Giles stared after him for the longest time and wondered how long it had
taken the vampire to work up the courage to say those simple words. Words
that settled into the Watcher's heart and healed a place he hadn't even
known was still wounded.
He only hoped that his words had done the same.
* * * * *
Several nights later, Giles opened his door to find Angel waiting with
another fine bottle of whiskey at his side. Instead of pulling up a chair
to the doorway, he stepped outside and sat next to the vampire.
Angel's eyes got a bit wide, but he showed no other signs of surprise.
"Don't you think this has gone on long enough?" Giles began, and Angel's
breath caught because he thought the Watcher was going to send him away.
The next words however, filled him with both elation and fear. "Why don't
we take this bottle of whiskey and go -?"
"Don't!" The vampire's voice stopped Giles before he could finish the
"Why not?" Confusion, and surprise, colored his words.
"Don't *ever* invite me in," Angel demanded hoarsely.
"No!" Barely-restrained hysteria edged Angel's voice. "Promise me." He
saw the hesitation in the other's eyes and demanded again, "Promise me!"
"I promise," Giles responded reluctantly. He saw Angel's shoulders slump in
relief and shook his head. He stood and went back into the cottage.
Angel closed his eyes and sighed, wondering if he'd driven Giles away; as
much as the thought hurt, he'd do it again if that's what it took to protect
him. His heart sped up at the sound of the cottage door opening again. He
opened his eyes as two glasses appeared beside the unopened bottle of
whiskey beside him.
"Will you pour, or shall I?" Giles asked as he sat down again.
Angel said a silent prayer of thanks as he reached for the bottle.
* * * * *
A week later, Giles was pacing the floor; he was worried. It was hours
after sunset and Angel hadn't shown up yet. This wasn't like him. Their
routine had become as reliable as the sun. The vampire arrived within the
hour of sunset and they talked, or not. But either way, he was here.
Why wasn't he here?
Giles resisted the urge to curse and continued to worry. Finally, he
stopped in the middle of the room and nodded to himself. If something had
happened, staying inside and pacing wouldn't do any good. He grabbed a
stake and dagger, shoved both into pockets as he shrugged on his jacket and
bolted out the door.
He'd gone into the edge of the woods when he heard a rustling in the
underbrush. He reached into his pockets to grasp the stake and the dagger
as he braced himself for what he might face.
Angel stumbled out of the bushes, weaving his way along.
"Damn it, Angel, you frightened me!" Giles began to berate him, before
noticing the scratches on the side of the vampire's face. He started
towards Angel. "What happened?" He was almost to the vampire's side when
he noticed the dark stain spreading across Angel's shirt. "What the bloody
hell happened?" he demanded again.
"I'm fine," Angel replied weakly.
"Of course you are," Giles responded sarcastically, even as he gently took
Angel's arm to keep him from pitching, face-first, to the ground.
"I just need to rest."
"You need to tell me what happened."
"I was taking care of something," Angel hedged.
Giles was looking at the wound in Angel's shoulder as best he could with all
the clothes in the way. What he managed to see stunned him. "You've been
"Well, yeah," the vampire responded with a weak humor that ended with a
wince when he stumbled against Giles, bumping his wound.
"What happened? No, never mind. I'll find out what happened after we get
you cleaned up." Giles slung Angel's uninjured arm over his shoulder and
began helping him back to the cottage. When he started up the steps instead
of lowering Angel to sit on them, the vampire protested.
"Leave me here."
"You need medical attention, Angel. I'm not sure why this wound isn't
closing, but it's not and you're losing a tremendous amount of blood," Giles
"It's not closing because I was shot with a blessed silver bullet," Angel
explained with a grimace.
"But the bullet went completely through, there is an entrance and an exit
"I'm guessing that there's shrapnel in the wound, Giles, that's why it won't
"Then I need to get you inside so I can see to clean it and remove what
remains of the bullet."
"I'm not going inside your house, Giles."
"Yes, you are, Angel." Giles hitched the vampire up to get a better hold on
him. Angel tried to fight him, but the blood loss had made him weaker than
he thought and he wasn't sure he could control what remained of his strength
if he tried too hard to break free. He didn't want to accidentally hurt
"You promised me," he reminded the Watcher weakly.
"I lied," Giles shot back, muttering an invitation as he carried the vampire
over the threshold.
He led the Angel over to the sofa and sat him down.
"Goddamnit, that hurt!" Angel hissed as he landed on his wounded shoulder.
"Take off your shirt," Giles ordered as he left to go find his first-aid
Angel got as far as unbuttoning his shirt before collapsing tiredly against
Giles came back and sighed as he looked at Angel. He knelt down beside the
sofa and gently peeled the shirt away from the wound, wincing and uttering a
quiet, succinct curse at the jagged hole that still oozed blood.
"I can feel the shrapnel in the wound," Angel whispered. "It's like fire
inside my shoulder."
Giles took out his instruments and began to lightly probe the wound, trying
to ignore the stifled groans coming from the vampire. He found each shard
and removed it, having to pause several times to sponge blood away from the
wound so he could see. He wasn't sure he'd gotten all of it until he saw
the wound begin to close along with Angel's sigh of relief. He quickly put
the first-aid kit away and sat down in the chair opposite the sofa.
"Would you like to tell me what happened now?"
Angel sighed, his eyes only half-opened, and Giles knew that he was on the
verge of passing out.
Angel opened his eyes and looked at the man seated across from him. "I was
trying to save a werewolf," he said quietly.
"A werewolf? Why were you trying to save a werewolf and how did you get
shot? And how did you know the bloody bullet was a blessed?"
"I know it was a blessed bullet because the bastard who was planning on
doing the hunting was bragging about it in the pub. He was convinced a
werewolf was killing his stock, so he made some silver bullets and, just for
good measure, had the village pastor bless them." Angel tried to shift to
ease the pain, but only succeeded in making himself hurt more. Just because
he had accelerated healing didn't mean it didn't hurt like hell *while* it
"Why did he think there was a werewolf in these woods?" Giles asked as he
helped Angel into a more comfortable position.
"Because there is." Angel looked at the Watcher. "I knew about him, but he's
not a threat to anyone. He's not killing anyone's stock. He's dying and
all he wants is a place to rest until his time comes." He closed his eyes
and sighed. "He's old and sick, Giles. I couldn't let that guy hunt him
down and kill him like that," he whispered as sleep finally claimed him.
"Of course you couldn't," Giles replied quietly to him, his emotions for
Angel smacking him in the face for the very first time. He'd never been the
type of man to put limits on whom one could love.
As he studied Angel, he finally recognized the feeling that had almost
overwhelmed him when he had seen him come stumbling out of the woods. It
was pure, unadulterated panic. The type of panic that only happened a few
times in his life - when someone he loved was hurt or in danger. He'd just
barely managed to control it.
That brought him to his epiphany. He was in love with Angel. How in the
bloody hell had he fallen in love with the souled version of his worst
enemy? When had he stopped seeing Angelus and started seeing Angel? And
what could he possibly do about his feelings? Even if Angel felt the same
way, which was a huge 'if', there was no way for anything to come of it.
Neither of them would take the chance of loosing Angelus on an unsuspecting
He was still pondering this turn of events when he dropped off to sleep.
* * * * *
Angel woke slowly, feeling an unfamiliar pressure on his hand. He turned
his head and saw Giles asleep in the chair beside the sofa. His eyes
drifted down to see the Watcher had taken hold of his hand sometime after
Angel had drifted off to sleep. The innocent touch of Giles' hand had
opened something in the vampire that had been closed for over ten years. He
gently extracted his hand from beneath the Giles' and quietly made his way
outside to sit on the steps while he tried to bring his emotions back into
some sort of order.
He wasn't sure if he wanted to laugh hysterically or cry uncontrollably. It
had been so long since he'd allowed anyone to get close enough to him for it
to matter that he'd forgotten just what it felt like. That blessed
forgetfulness had allowed him to cloak his feelings for Giles in the guise
of friendship. That cloak had been ripped away when Giles had invited Angel
into his home and risked himself in order to help him. An invitation that
could lead to the Watcher's death.
That was something that Angel couldn't allow. He hadn't protected Buffy
from Angelus, but he could protect Giles.
He cared about him too much to do otherwise. His demon snorted. 'Care,
Angelboy? You do a helluva lot more than *care* about that old, broken-down
Watcher, you're in love with him.' Its laughter mocked Angel.
Angel shook his head in stunned disbelief. How the hell had that happened?
And how was he supposed to live with it now? Because there was no way on
earth that Giles would ever feel the same. He had allowed Angel back into
his life as a friend and that was as much forgiveness, and acceptance, as
the vampire had any right, or hope, to expect.
No, he wouldn't burden Giles with his feelings. Angel could still hear the
demon's cruel laughter echoing in his mind.
He closed his eyes and prepared himself for what he had to do next. Leaving
was the only way to protect Giles, no matter how much it hurt.
It was the right thing to do, and Angel was going to do the right thing for
Giles no matter what it cost him.
* * * * *
Giles woke up and saw that Angel was no longer on the sofa. The pillow
still had the indention of his head, so he couldn't have been gone very
long. The Englishman stood quickly and went to the door. He expected to
have to search for the vampire, so it was a toss-up as to who was more
surprised - Giles to find Angel on the front stoop, or Angel to see Giles
awake so soon.
"I'm leaving," Angel said quietly, looking out into a clear night, the stars
so bright that he could see the play of every emotion on Giles' face.
"Why?" Giles came to sit beside him.
"I can't stay now that you've invited me into your home."
"I could always uninvite you."
"But you won't."
"You're right, I won't."
Angel resisted the urge to shake him. "Why not, damn it!"
"Because I will not live my life in fear and neither should you."
"You don't understand."
Giles' heart broke at the utter helplessness in Angel's voice. He fought
against the overwhelming desire to take his hand and reassure him that all
would be well. Instead he fought his battle with his most formidable
weapon - words. "You think I don't understand fighting your past? Fighting
the demons that your own actions have spawned?" He shook his head sadly.
"That particular battle is not your sole territory."
"But not everyone has to worry about their demons escaping and killing
someone, do they?" Angel refused to look at the man beside him. He had to
be strong and he couldn't do what needed to be done if he looked at him.
"The demon destroys everything, and everyone, that I care about, Giles." He
took a deep breath. "I've lost everyone else that I've ever loved, I can't
lose you too," he finished in a low, husky whisper.
"You will not lose me," Giles reassured him, his heart lifting at the
implications of Angel's quiet statement. He'd thought about the curse that
Angel lived with and he had realized a simple truth.
Achieving perfect happiness was next to impossible. Now he only had to
convince Angel of this. "Have you ever thought that your curse might not be
as formidable as you think?" He hurried on before Angel could interrupt.
"That perfect happiness, in the real world, is almost impossible to attain."
Giles reached out and gently turned Angel's head until he was looking him in
the eye. "Most people live happy, contented lives with less than perfect
happiness, but they love one another enough to make it work. You and I know
better than most that nothing is guaranteed and that in itself means that it
can't be perfect." He watched Angel fight against what he was telling him.
"You will always know what would happen if you ever experienced a moment of
perfect happiness, that knowledge, in and of itself, would virtually ensure
that you never will."
"You don't know that for sure." Angel pulled away and stood. "Goodbye,
Giles." His voice broke.
Giles quickly gathered his courage. "I'm in love with you and I don't want
you to go." He never moved, but his voice was low and urgent.
Neither of them noticed that it had begun to rain.
Angel squeezed his eyes shut and fought the urge to give in to what they
both wanted and stay. "I can't. I can't take the chance that I might hurt
you if I stay here."
Giles sighed deeply. "Nothing I can say will convince you otherwise?"
Angel shook his head.
"What if I said that I would move? Leave this place and go to Scotland or
England? You wouldn't have to worry about the invitation extended today."
Angel just shook his head again and stepped off the bottom step.
"Angel?" Giles' voice stopped him, but the vampire didn't turn. "I won't
ask you to stay again." He took a deep breath. "Just remember one thing,
if you ever stop running, I will be waiting."
Angel's shoulders slumped and then straightened as he walked away into the
Giles never noticed as the rain soaked him through.
* * * * *
CORNWALL - TWO YEARS LATER
Giles listened to the rain drumming on his roof as he set the tea tray down
beside his chair. He walked over to the bookcase and chose a worn,
leather-bound book and carried it back over to his chair.
He'd just poured a cup tea and settled down to read when he heard a single
knock on his door.