ImMortal part 5: Bonds
Giles couldn't believe the feel of Buffy in his arms. It was as if they'd been apart for lifetimes yet as his hands moved up her back to comb his fingers through her silken blonde strands, he remembered every inch of her. The memory of her body was forever fixed within his mind and now, with the hint of chocolate in her breath and the plump urging of her lips, he was finally home.
"Um... guys?" Willow tried to interrupt the amorous couple but they continued on, ignoring all those surrounding them. Willow could see the damage in Angel's eyes and tried again. "B-Buffy? Giles? Can you... um, are you..."
Anya pushed her way through the crowd and rushed forward, wrapping her arms around both Giles and Buffy, hugging them both. Xander cocked a brow and looked over at Willow who seemed just as dumbfounded by the awkward gesture. It was enough to finally bring the kissing couple out of their fervor and Giles and Buffy looked dazed at Anya.
"Let me be the first to say 'Welcome back, Giles!'" Anya announced proudly and pulled away.
"T-thank you, Anya," Giles said, shaken and trying to recollect himself from his passionate reunion with Buffy. "I'm quite glad to be back." He offered a kind smile and glanced back to Buffy who responded with a grin, embarrassed.
"I can see that," Angel mumbled under his breath.
Fred hurried forward to be the next to greet him only to be outflanked by Willow , Dawn and Xander. She allowed them their moment, patiently watching as they took turns hugging and greeting Giles the way they'd been eagerly awaiting for since his arrival. He accepted them with all the warmth and affection of family. Wesley smiled confusedly at Fred and shrugged.
"This is... it's amazing." Wes shook his head. "Puzzling, but amazing."
"How did it happen?" Fred moved back to Angel who tossed the twisted remains of the shattered amulet at her. She caught it gracelessly and examined it.
"Everyone out," Angel ordered gruffly and the assemblage of partygoers spilled out into the lobby. "Not you guys." He amended and motioned to the gang of friends and his team as he shut them in. Once everyone who was seeking a hug from the Watcher was satisfied, Buffy returned within his embrace, steeling one last tender kiss. Giles smiled gratefully as she pulled back but remained immediately at his side.
"You said destroying the amulet would destroy the bond between Giles and it," Angel said sternly to Wes.
"That was our theory," Wes agreed and looked over at a confused Fred. "Perhaps we should have taken into account that his bond with Buffy may be stronger. So he became corporeal with the destruction of the amulet?" Angel nodded.
"How did it get broken?" Fred asked.
"I did it," Angel said curtly.
"You mean it was an accident?" Fred asked innocently.
Giles moved forward, raising a hand to interrupt. "Angel... you shouldn't..."
"No," Angel answered Fred with a stony expression. "It wasn't an accident."
All eyes went wide with the admission and Buffy's face fell in disbelief. Xander's jaw tensed and his anger grew as he realized what Angel had just admitted. He subtly slipped out a wooden stake from his boot and moved unnoticed toward the vampire. He pulled back the weapon, ready to send it plunging into Angel's back when Wes casually snapped it from Xander's hand.
"Mr. Harris, let's try and work this out without dusting anyone, shall we."
Xander gave Wesley a push, trying uselessly to retrieve his stake. "But deadboy tried to kill..."
"Wait!" Buffy stormed forward, taking up position between Angel and Giles. "You knew that busting the amulet could kill Giles and you did it anyway?" Her demanding grey-green eyes stared down the dark vampire, waiting. Angel looked regretfully to Giles then back to her and as he opened his mouth to answer, Buffy swung around and slapped Giles hard across the cheek so loud it echoed in the large office space. Everyone grimaced.
"You bastard! You were going to do it again!" She shouted furiously.
"B-Buffy, I believed there was no other option," Giles pleaded, reaching out to console her only to have his hand spanked away.
"I don't get it. Why is she angry at Giles?" Willow whispered to Dawn.
"Buffy, all the research pointed to..." Angel's defense was interrupted by another slap but this time landing square across the vampire's own unsuspecting face.
"And you!" Buffy yelled. "I can't believe you'd do this. I can't believe you'd let him talk you into this."
"Oh," Willow nodded, suddenly growing very livid at Giles herself. "Wait... Giles, you asked Angel to destroy the amulet thinking it would..."
"Giles, you promised me," Fred interrupted.
"Actually, I promised not to have Wesley attempt to destroy it again," he corrected gently.
"Again? Wes?!" Buffy pivoted around; directing her attention on the younger Watcher whose eyes went wide like a deer caught in headlights.
"Now Buffy... we didn't know what would happen. We initially thought it might free Giles..." he began to cautiously shift behind the desk, trying to keep a safe distance from the slaphappy Slayer.
"What's the big deal? It all worked out okay," Anya suggested, starting to cut the banana-coconut cake. "Who wants cake?" Gunn was the first in line followed shortly after by Xander who stormed over to take a plateful of the tempting confection. After the first forkful, his anger seemed to fade and he nodded pleased at Lorne who also moved in to claim a piece.
"Demon bakery on Wilshire and Pine, specializes in interspecies cuisine." He took a bite and smiled wide. "Fates be praised, Antoine does it again! Dawnie, you gotta get in on some of this."
"Might as well. This could take a while." She shrugged and joined them along the banquet spread. "I have to reserve judgment until I hear further evidence."
"Well said. Have you ever considered a position as legal aid?" Gunn flirted.
"So you were going to just let Angel wipe you out? All this these years together and you don't even let us have a say in the matter." Willow fumed.
Giles responded as delicately as he could, "It wasn't your decision to make."
"It is so! How dare you even say that. You've been a part of all of our lives for over seven years, Giles. We love you no matter who or what you are. Don’t you get that yet? Granted... things were looking a little grim. But that doesn't give you license to give up... to run away, again." Willow objected. "And it's totally not fair of you to make Angel do that!"
" Willow , he didn't make me. It was my choice."
"And you should have come to us. We're a team now, Angel. All of us. We can't have secrets from each other. We can't keep each other in the dark when there is important information we need to know."
Buffy began to shrink back, trying to hide in the shadows of the room and Wesley noticed he seemed to be suddenly off the hook.
"No more need-to-know crap!" Willow ordered loudly, pointing to Wesley. "No more, none-of-your-business!" She pointed to Angel. "No more Greater Good!" She pointed to Giles.
"Here, here!" Xander spoke up in hearty agreement and Dawn and Anya echoed the sediment with nods and muffled agreement, still partaking in the fabulous cake.
"And no more non-communication and disconnecting!" Willow motioned to Buffy. "We are family. We are all we've got, now." She glanced around, her eyes pleading for all of them to hear and understand. "We are working within the heart of the beast, here people. There's no telling what's in store for us? If we're going continue to do some good and stay focused on the mission, we have to work together. This means from here on in, no more secrets and no more solo decisions."
Wesley smiled, reassured even more with his decision to bring the fiery wicca on board. "I agree."
"As do I," Giles smile proudly at her.
"Me too," Angel conceded grudgingly.
"Brava." Lorne applauded and handed off some drinks to the people around him. "Now... can we forget all this hubbub and get on with the merry revelry already?" He raised his glass, hoping to coax the others into joining him. Dawn, Xander, Anya, and Gunn raised their glasses to toast as Harmony moved in and handed off a couple of mugs to Giles and Angel. Angel offered a faint smile at his gracious hostess as she moved on to give Wes and Buffy a glass of wine.
"Alrighty... here's to putting the 'T' back in teamwork." Lorne started. "Fang Gang's all here and rarin' to make with the good tidings. Cheers!" The crowd said their 'cheers' and drank. Buffy didn't, choosing instead to stealthily pour her wine into a nearby plant, noticed only by the watchful Wes. Giles was also a slight apprehensive about the odd cocktail he'd been given.
Harmony could see his disconcerted expression and whispered, "It's the boss's fave, warmed pig's blood and vodka with a dash of Tabasco . Try it. You'll like it."
Giles gave it another sniff and couldn't deny his curiosity. As soon as the scent of blood wafted past his nostrils, he felt the beast stirring and his hunger growing. He tried to contain his appetite and sip politely at the potion. It was delicious. "Thank you, harmony."
"Sure. Welcome home." She smiled and moved on to care to other guests.
"Commence with festivities," Lorne ordered joyfully and flipped a switch, sending music blaring within the office space. Harmony opened up the office doors and gestured for the discarded partygoers to return. Within moments, the celebration was back in full swing and the gang jumped into it with as much enthusiasm as they could.
After indulging in another swig of his cocktail, Giles eyes searched the massive crowd for Buffy. She was gone and so was Wes.
"How long?" Wesley asked softly.
"What?" Buffy jerked around, startled by the unannounced visitor.
"How far along are you?" He closed the door behind him, giving them privacy.
"I don't know what you’re talking about." She returned her attention out the window to the dark and starry night sky.
"I don't mean to pry, but I've seen the fatigue, the peculiar appetite going from nonexistent to ravenous, the mood swings, the slight weight gain..."
"If you value your life, you better stop right there!" Buffy growled.
"And I've noticed your radiance, Buffy. You're pregnant." Wesley smiled tenderly.
Buffy let out a heavy sigh, knowing better than to attempt denying it. "Yeah, guess I am."
"I don't suppose you've been to see a doctor?"
"Not yet. Just tried the old tinkle stick test."
Wesley grinned. "Do you know how far along..."
"Less than three months."
"Have you notified the father?" Wes asked expectantly.
Buffy jerked around, eyes wide with worry.
"I'm... I'm sorry, did he... was he lost in the Sunnydale incursion?"
"You could say that," Buffy smiled weakly and Wesley's eyes narrowed for a moment, confused.
"Oh... was it..." he paused nervously, "Giles is the father... before he was turned?"
"After," Buffy corrected and Wesley's face crinkled with more confusion.
"Vampires can't procreate. Not in the traditional sense. They can only sire."
"I know. Angel told me while back. When he tried to be realistic of what we could have together. But..." she paused, nervous about continuing. "It was the night before the attack. Giles and I met in the main church hall. I think we both believed it would be the last night on earth." She chuckled weakly. "Then I saw he was different, breathing. I felt his heartbeat." Tears came to her eyes as she fought back her emotions. "He was alive, Wes. I don't know how or why, but he was alive. And when the sun rose the next morning, he wasn't."
"I'm sorry." Wesley moved around his desk and gently pulled her into his arms. She let out a few faint sobs as he tried to console her. "I can't imagine what you went through. But it's remarkable you had that time together. I've never heard of such a thing occurring before."
"I'm scared Wes," Buffy sobbed. "I don't know what to do. What does it mean? Why me? Why now?"
"You're pregnant Buffy. It's hardly the end of the world." He pulled back, looking reassuringly into her worried eyes.
"I want to believe that, Wes. I really do." Buffy fell back into the oversized executive chair and folded her legs, hugging her knees tight against her. "Giles told me about a prophecy, something about the Slayer knowing darkness and true evil by the kiss of a demon. He assumed it was the same deal as Angel's curse."
"I remember looking into that. But you said it yourself Buffy, Giles was alive when you were... when you were intimate, he was human."
"I don't know that." She looked over at him with a regretful stare.
"You think there's something more to your pregnancy than a simple twist of fate?"
"Tell me I'm overreacting. Tell me it's just hormones, Wes, or that I'm going crazy." She looked up at Wesley with concern filled eyes. "I love Giles with all my heart but he died in my arms that morning and what was left behind was... is a demon. A demon with Giles' body and soul, a demon I love, but still a demon."
"You fear the consequences of this child, that its existence might hold some danger for you and others?" Wes paused, seeing the doubt in the Slayer's tearful stare. "You don't want him to know..."
"If the baby is... if there is something wrong in this, I don't want Giles to have to make the hard decision. It will be better if he never knew."
"What do your instincts tell you?"
"To run like hell." Buffy placed her hand over her stomach. "But this life is all I have left of the man I loved that night. I want to have this child."
"Even if it means risking your life?" He asked, already knowing the answer.
Buffy chuckled weakly, sadly amused. "How would this be any different than all these years as the Chosen One?"
"Let me investigate what I can about this prophecy. If I find evidence to the contrary, we need to inform Giles he is going to be a father."
"And if you find something else?" Buffy asked guardedly.
Wes took in a deep breath and stared sternly at her. "Then I will support your decision whether or not it follows my opinion on the matter. But you must realize that this won't stay hidden for very long. By the very nature of it all, the symptoms will become more obvious."
"Was it me, or was little Miss Sunnydale getting her serious happy on seeing her old man again?" Gunn leaned up against Angel's desk, waiting for a response from the vampire.
"They're very close." Angel didn't bother to look at him. He just sipped his cocktail of pig's blood and vodka and stared at the samurai sword on his wall, feeling the sudden urge to kill something.
"I'll buy that. Mister missing-in-action shows up after all this time, wreaking havoc with everyone's lives, asks you to do the dirty deed of sending him to the great beyond. Then in a flash, poof, Watcherman strolls in and sweeps your girl off her feet. And you weren't even a blip on the radar, chief. That's gotta toast your tots, eh?"
"What are you getting at, Gunn?"
"Why no objections, Angel? I mean, if that was my girl getting it on hot and heavy with the man that was her teacher, practically her father for Christ's sake. Well... I'd be throwin' down, is all I'm saying. You've been vamped a lot longer than him. Know the ropes and could easily take him. You loved her a lot longer than him. What gives with the Gandhi routine?"
"It's more complicated then that, Gunn. And it's none of your business."
"Oh no you don't. We've amended that contract, remember Bossman? No more of that."
"Buffy loves him." Angel sipped his drink, growing more agitated by the second.
"She also loves you. I've seen it. And I've got news for you, chief, executive washroom has a vent that connects up to the ducts here in your office. I've heard the love, if you know what I mean. So why are you bowing out here? What's he got over you?"
"You're telling me he deserves her more than you? No way, no how. You're a champion."
"So is he. He sacrificed himself to save the world."
"Please, you've saved the world how many times now?" Gunn's speech was slurring, showing the symptoms of his redundant visits to the bar.
"You don't know him, Gunn. He's a good man. He's not a..."
"Demon?" Gunn snickered. "He is, Angel. He's a vampire, just like you. No... not like you. You're at least up front with it. English hides it, denies it. Look... it took a long time for me to get into bed with the whole working-with-a-vampire notion but I finally get it. It's about accepting who you are now, not then. You and me, we're good with ourselves, comfortable in our skins as they are now and we ain't lookin' back. But Watcherman there... he's all about the past. But you know that, don't ya? After all, that's what he holds over you, isn’t it? You're past." Gunn chugged down his drink and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand.
"You're right," Angel growled, downed his drink and held out the empty red stained mug. "Harmony... get me another and keep 'em coming!"
"Even with the tricky deceit... I'm glad you're whole again," Fred said pleased.
"Thank you... for everything." Giles reached out, politely offering her his hand. She shyly slipped her hand in his and blushed.
"It was nothing. Wes helped a lot. But I'll miss the long hours down at the lab. I had fun studying you," her cheeks flushed a deeper crimson. "I mean, I'll miss your company."
"I'm not planning on going anywhere anytime soon so you're sure to see me from time to time." He smiled, giving her hand a gentle squeeze. "Thank you, Fred." Fred watched the Watcher stroll across the room to Dawn and she felt a tinge of jealousy for the attention he doted upon her and his Sunnydale friends. As they hugged and talked and ate, she began to realize just how close that circle of friends was and that she'd done a good thing. As her eyes shifted to the long face of Angel, she could see he was in dire need of hearing such praise as well.
"Where's Buffy?" Giles asked Willow .
"I don't know. She's been gone a while. Maybe I should go look for her. I'm really glad your back Giles." Willow gave Giles another hug took off in search for the absentee Slayer.
Giles glanced regretfully over at Xander. "I hope Buffy's alright. I never meant to hurt her in all this."
"She'll get over it. How are you doing?" Dawn asked, joining them in the corner of the office.
"As well as can be expected, I suppose. To put it bluntly, I'm... I'm rather high at the moment. To go from possible oblivion to... to this? My head is still swimming with the realization that I'm..."
"Physical," Xander finished with a broad smile. "Right there with you. But I'd wager that that spiked drink you've been enjoying might have something to do with your state of mind, G-man."
"I never thought I'd be happy to hear you call me by that infernal name." Giles smiled and pulled Xander into a manly hug. Before pulling back he whispered in his young friend's ear. "But if you don't stop calling me that, I swear I'll bite you." Xander smiled as the Watcher stepped back with an easy smile curled along his lips. He couldn't help the feeling there was truth to the playful threat.
Xander couldn't stop himself. "Welcome back, G-man." He just managed to dodge out of the way from the Watcher's swift hand jetting out to grab him. Dawn giggled at the impromptu game of chase through the crowd as Xander fled for his life from the vampire.
"Where's Buffy?" Willow asked Wes as he came out of his office alone.
"She's inside, wants to be alone at the moment." He tried to hurry past the witch but felt an instant grip hold him still.
"Not thirty minutes ago, I gave my version of a 'I have a dream' speech and you completely missed the point. Remember 'no secrets'?"
" Willow , I appreciate your concern but it isn't my place to..."
"What's going on? Is she okay?"
"She's fine. Just needs some time..."
"Why'd she take off?"
"As I was saying, Buffy wanted to take a moment..."
"Is she going to come back to the party?"
"I'm not sure..."
"Wes... tell me what's going on!"
Wes took in a frustrated breath. "She's pregnant." He'd just blurted it out, wanting to stop Willow 's persistent questioning. And as the redhead's eyes went wide with shock, he pulled Willow by the arm back into his office, much to the surprise of Buffy.
"I'm sorry," Wesley started pleading to the upset Slayer.
"B-Buffy?" Willow began to move toward her friend, her face painted with astonishment.
"Wes... no. Tell me you didn't..."
"You're pregnant?!" Willow practically tackled Buffy with excitement. "Ohmygod, ohmygod!"
"You’re a dead man," Buffy sneered at Wes, trying to calm her overly enthusiastic friend.
"It just happened. I didn't intend to slip."
"Wait..." Willow pulled back, her gaze shifting to Wesley. "Who? How?"
"Buffy, I think you'd best field those questions."
"Oh my God... It's Angel, isn't it?" Willow 's excitement grew and she looked like her head was going to explode. "Vampires can have children? I thought they couldn't?"
"They can't." Wesley agreed helplessly.
"He wasn't a vampire at the time," Buffy said unthinking and getting an even more shocked expression from the wicca. "No Will... I meant that..."
"Giles? Giles is the father? Just how long have you and Giles been at this?"
"It wasn't like that."
"What's with the Hannibal Lector vibes I'm getting upstream kiddies?" Lorne asked Angel and Gunn as he walked up to join them. "I'm sensing some ill-at-uneasiness and it's spoiling the mood."
"Buffy's your girl," Gunn said. "Always has been."
"Yeah." Angel stood from his chair, swaying slightly in his motion.
"Why things gotta change now?"
Lorne grew more concerned when he could see the fire in Angel's eyes. "Woh-oh, the testosterone is so thick I can cut it with a plastic knife. What'dya say we three stallions go take a breather..."
Gunn ignored Lorne and continued to goad Angel on. "Buffy and you are destined, two heroes battling together to get their own piece of the good life, together."
"I love her." Angel agreed. "She deserves a good life."
"Angelcakes, take it down a few notches. I know where you're going with this and you should stay out of it. Trust me on this..." Lorne's warning was useless. The vampire was lost within his determination.
"Go take back what's yours, Angel." Gunn barked.
"Shut up, cowboy. Enough with the rootin' already," Lorne warned.
"Giles, might I have a moment?" Angel's voice was mockingly proper as he called across the crowded room. Gunn nudged the vampire in approval of his sarcastic impression. The Watcher looked over and nodded politely, making his way over to them.
"Angel, I've been meaning to thank you..."
"Pfft... no need, Giles. I owed you one, didn't I?" Angel turned and focused his attention on his weapons collection hanging on the wall. "Maybe you can settle a little disagreement my associate and I were having..."
"English Muffin, if you know what's good for you..."
"Lorne! See to our other guests." Angel ordered harshly.
"Nice knowing you." Lorne's eyes darted between the two men and he hurried off.
Giles looked back at Angel, confused. "I'd be glad to help. What's the disagreement?"
Angel took two swords into his hands, rocking a bit off balance from the overabundance of drink he'd had. "Which is a better blade, samurai or broad sword?"
"It all depends on the field of combat and the opponent, I suppose." Giles shrugged, distracted by the continued absence of Buffy.
"Which do you prefer?" Angel turned around, gazing over at Giles with a heavily shadowed brow.
"I'd have to say the katana. Broad swords require much more brute strength while a man of my stature would be better served by a thin blade offering speed and agility."
"I thought you'd say that." Angel handed over the samurai sword and smiled. "What's you're feelings on this one?"
"If you know what's good for you, you gals best be hustling toward the exits before Angelcakes goes postal," Lorne warned Dawn and Anya.
"What's going on?" Xander asked, still clearing his mouth from another hors d'oeuvre.
Giles cocked a naive brow and gave the sword a quick test of balance, slashing the air and spinning it in his grip. "Handsome blade. Well made, sturdy. Why do you ask?"
Angel sneered, glanced drunkenly over at Gunn for a final nod of encouragement and then slapped Giles' hard across the face once and then again, marking both cheeks with his open hand. "I Angel, challenge you, Rupert Giles, to a duel."
A spray of cracker chunks and cheese spit out from Xander's mouth as he spoke tried to speak. "Bloody hell!"