ImMortal part 6: Duel
"And then what happened?" Willow sighed.
"He said to me with bated breath, 'This won't last'," Buffy delivered the line as if in some overdramatic soap opera and Wesley scooted further forward on the desk, guiltily eager to hear the next line in the drama unfolding with Buffy's words. "And I said, 'I'm not asking for forever' and I pulled him into a passionate kiss."
"Oh my God, that is so... so..." Willow sighed again.
"Tragic..." Wes finished softly, absorbed within the tale.
"I was going to say romantic," Willow corrected. Wesley suddenly felt aware that his presence wasn't actually required so he moved toward the large paned glass window as the Buffy continued on with her storytelling.
"We kissed like it was forever. His lips were so hot and soft at first but eager. He was so... so...." Buffy's breath caught and she paused to reflect on the memory. "I will never forget it."
"You really love him," Willow said sadly.
"So much that it hurts sometimes. Every time I look into his eyes I see the man I love and can never have. It reminds me of..."
"Angel?" Willow asked regretfully and saw Buffy's face fall with disappointment. "I'm sorry but I can’t help but see the similarity there."
"It's not the same," Buffy demanded. "I love Giles in such a different way."
"I never loved Spike. He was temporary insanity."
Willow nodded briskly. "I'll buy that."
"Hey... he left me, Will; the man I didn't even know I loved had just walked out on me. I had all these mixed up emotions and feelings and didn't understand what was going on. Now I know it was because I loved Giles that I acted out and pushed him away when he came back."
"It's not that I doubt your love for Giles. I just can't see past the coincidence of you realizing your love for him when he's become a vampire. You have to admit you seem to have a pattern here."
"I've grown, Will. I'm not who I was back then."
Willow offered an empathetic smile and took Buffy's hand in hers. "I love you, Buffy. You're one of my best friends... but so is Giles. He was my friend before you even stepped into the picture. Listen... I've never admitted this to anyone, but I used to have a major crush on Giles. I think I was way smitten the first day we met. Maybe not a full-bodied, mature love, but love none the less. He was so smart and kind and... and so damned sexy, even in the tweed. I would intentionally return library books late in order to serve detention there after school."
"He was quite the ladies man back at the academy..." Wesley's comment was met with more sharp glances.
"Is this supposed to make me feel better?" Buffy winced.
"My point is that in all the years of you and I hanging out, in all the years of us researching together, gossiping together, and playing 'anywhere but here' together, I never once saw or heard any spark of interest in him from you," Willow continued. "I've got to ask why now, Buffy? I love Giles, too. And I'll be damned if I let anyone hurt him again. Are you sure it's Giles you love or the notion of another vampire who hasn't got centuries of murder and blood staining his hands?"
"I love Giles, Willow," Buffy said determinedly, "Not because he's a vampire but because I've fallen in love with him."
"Giles or the vampire he's become?" the redhead asked persistently.
"Pardon?" Giles voice squeaked, unsure of what he'd just fallen victim to.
"It's quite simple, Rupert..." Angel swayed as he gripped the broad sword in his hand. "I'm challenging you for Buffy's hand."
Giles looked to Lorne who shrugged helplessly. "Can’t say I didn't warn you."
"Angel, let's discuss this..."
"I'm through discussing things with you, Rupert." Angel swayed off balance as he tried to raise the blade toward Giles. Giles shook his head and swatted the blade away with his free hand.
"You're drunk," Giles dismissed, irritated.
"Yeah, well... so are you!" Angel sent a pointed finger to Giles chest.
"I am not!" Giles objected and looked to Dawn for confirmation.
"Maybe a little," Dawn said plainly, "But not as drunk as you, Angel. This is a bad idea."
Xander swaggered over to lend his support to the Watcher. "Why don't you take Deadboy up on the offer, Giles?"
"Because it's unnecessary, it's juvenile and it's irrational," Giles warned. "And it's unnecessary." He added with a flippant wave of his hand.
"You already said that," Dawn corrected.
"Did I?" Giles asked perplexedly, swaying in place with a raised brow.
"On second thought, maybe you are as wasted as Angel." Dawn commandeered the half empty mug from Giles' hand and gave it a revolted sniff. Whatever it was, it was really potent.
"I'd pay good money to see these two go at it. Come on, Giles. Teach him a lesson, once and for all. I'll stop calling you G-man if you do."
"You got a problem Harris?" Gunn asked stridently.
"Yeah, about seven years running now, me and Deadboy, not so much pals as bitter enemies."
"Xander, stand-down." Giles' order was stern and bold as he lifted his arm out to hold back his young friend, quite unnecessarily since Xander had already shifted to his other side.
"Rupert, buddy... I know you want this as much as me." Angel egged the Watcher on. "This isn’t gonna be settled with polite discussions and treaties over tea. This can only be settled with the blade... with blood, sweat and tears."
"What I'd tell ya?" Lorne sang out in woe and rushed to make himself another sea breeze. As he poured, he noticed that it wasn't his usual brand of vodka. He examined the label and gave the mouth of the bottle a quick sniff. His eyes shot over to Anya who was curiously watching the charged altercation between the vampires across the room.
"Anya... sweetums, can I bend your ear over at the bar, here?" Lorne called cordially to her and she hesitantly backed over to him, still distracted by the intense conversation continuing on without her.
"Why do you want to bend my ear? Is it some type of strange party game? Shouldn't we ask the others to join us?" She asked.
"Where'd you get the booze?" Lorne whispered. "I thought I told you to go through Tony d'Sallow."
She swiveled around to face him, her forehead creasing with confusion. "Tony d'Sallow? I thought you said Tony the Shadow."
"Tony the Shadow?!" Lorne gasped, appalled.
"Well, he was listed under the W&H directory for specialty services and seemed more than happy to do the job. Is there a problem?"
"No... he's the perfect man for the job if you wanna cater the modern equivalent of the Saint Valentines Day Massacre."
"I'm not sure but I think some of the high spirits are heavy on the high and awfully mean spirited."
"Would you stop talking in puzzles and tell me what's going on!" Anya said with frustration as the voices from the heated conversation across the way began to elevate.
"I think some of the liquor is cursed." Lorne whispered.
"Which ones?" Anya glanced quickly at the bottles.
"Just a wild guess but the ones with the little skull and crossbones on the label might be the culprits." Lorne held up a bottle and pointed sharply to a little black and white sticker donning the menacing symbol.
"The vodka... who's drinking the vodka?" She scanned the crowd, trying to zero in on the many cocktails held in people's hands.
"Well, yours truly for one. But I don't seem to be affected, probably on account of my rather seasoned liver." Lorne shrugged. "But Angel and Giles are partaking in the wicked brew and I'd guess that Gunn may be drinking something with vodka as well."
"He called it a highball?" Anya remembered. "I thought he was referring to some variety of sports entertainment."
"No sweety, that's definitely one for the cursed pile."
"Xander's had a couple drinks too." She noted. "Wait... it was Sex on the Beach. I just thought he was propositioning me."
"Here's the game plan. You try and strip them of the liquid chaos and I'll wrangle up Wes, Buffy and Willow to help stop Demon Wrestlemania before the round one bell rings." Lorne hurried off and Anya started liberating the partygoers of their drinks, much to their confused objections.
"This is neither the time nor place, Angel!" Giles urged. "You don’t want this."
"He's a coward," Gunn barked. "Hiding behind his so-called morality. Thinks he's better than you."
"Angel's been begging for it since Jenny, Giles. Time for some payback," Xander coaxed the Watcher on, narrowly missing taking a sip of his drink as Anya swept by, collecting everyone's drinks without a single word and moving on with great haste.
"This isn't going to happen." Giles outstretched his hand, demanding that Angel keep his distance. In a furious motion, Angel sent his broad blade slicing across Giles' shoulder, eliciting a roar of pain from the Watcher as it cut through his flesh.
The crowd cringed.
"Rupert... buddy, let's give the good folks a show." Angel's mocking tone sent Giles careening back years prior to when he was being tortured by Angelus for the secrets of Acathla. With unchecked rage, Giles let go and his glowing yellow eyes locked with Angel's as the crowd hushed to an awed silence.
"As you wish," Giles growled, his creased brow bulging to reveal the demon within.
Not to be outdone by the newbie vampire, Angel's face morphed to the vampire and the mob's murmurs of excitement grew.
"Outside then! This is a new rug." Angel motioned with his sword toward the door.
"Then.... when the first rays of dawn's sunlight fell within the room, his heart stopped. He was... he was dead." Buffy choked and Willow immediately started bawling and the two friends tried their best to console each other. Wes rolled his eyes with frustration as he glanced back outside, blindly offering them his handkerchief and noticing a small crowd assembling out on the street below.
"Believe me," Buffy whimpered softly, "I love him, Will. I really do."
A moment later, Lorne came bursting through the door, very out of breath. All three were startled to their feet, Buffy and Willow wiping the evidence of their tears from their eyes.
"What's wrong Lorne?" Wesley asked.
"Angel... G-Giles... b-bad..." was all the winded demon could manage.
"Where?" Buffy demanded, already rushing to the door.
"That must be what the spectacle outside is," Wes grabbed his nearest weapon, his crossbow, and ran past Buffy to the elevator. "What is it then? Demon? Sorcerer? Androids?"
Lorne tried to keep up, still laboring to catch his breath. "A-Angel... G-Giles..."
"We got that part," Willow assured him as the elevator door finally began to open. They all hurried in and Wes pressed the close button. "Just calm down and tell us what they are fighting."
"G-Giles... A-Angel..." Lorne's breathless stuttering was getting even more frantic.
"We don't have time for this," Buffy looked anxiously to Wes. "I saw this in a movie once, maybe if you try and sing it. Like this... ♪ Angel and Giles are fighting vampires outside ♪..."
Lorne's eyes went wide, shooting a stunned look to Buffy as the elevator doors finally began to close. "Hey... you're pregnant!"
"Okay. So we're agreed. No attacks above the neck," Angel said, shifting his grip on the broadsword as he paced along the entryway to Wolfram and Hart.
"Or below the waist," Giles agreed, testing the balance to his weapon again.
"I'm sad to say, this is the most boring duel to the death I've ever seen," Xander sighed disappointedly.
"Their already dead, what do you expect?" Dawn suggested. "Besides, this won't happen. Giles will come to his senses any time now."
"Sure." Anya nodded. "Giles will come to his senses. Why would he want to dust Buffy's former lover who moved in on his woman after Giles sacrificed himself to save her and the world from an evil demon army invasion and then tried to send him to a bleak end after he returns from his fiery death caused by the very amulet Angel hand delivered that should have been worn by him in the first place." Anya shrugged dispassionately. "Sure, who'd see the justice in that?" She spotted a few others still equipped with jumbo-sized fruity cocktails and rushed off to confiscate them. Dawn's confidence evaporated as she looked over at Giles' raging golden eyes.
"Giles?" Dawn tried to be as calm as she could manage, "Can we talk about this?"
"Would you two get it on already?" Gunn ordered impatiently. "Night's a wastin' here."
"Can't this thing go any faster?" Buffy pushed the button again, eagerly trying to hurry the progress of the painfully slow elevator as it descended to the Musak version of the already maddening tune, You're Having My Baby.
"So, any thoughts on a name yet?" Lorne asked nonchalantly. "You know, Lorne is inter-gender..."
"I can't believe this. This is what I get when I try to keep secrets," Buffy grumbled.
"I'm just glad I'm not the only one who knows it. Me and secrets so don't get along." Willow said regretfully.
"Why would Angel challenge Giles to a duel? It makes no sense at all." Wes asked, confused. "He's always held Giles in the highest regard."
"Boys will be boys." Lorne shrugged nervously and quickly tried to change the subject. "So... who's the lucky poppa?"
"I l-loved her first!" Angel roared, slurring his words. "And s-she loves me!"
"A love born of innocence and youth... it can't last, Angel and you know it." Giles called back, just as garbled by intoxication as Angel. "You are two very different people now."
"So are you." Angel waved his sword clumsily toward Giles to accentuate his point. "You're a vampire, Giles. But you won't admit it or accept it. At least I do."
"I won't allow myself to accept it fully because to do so would be admitting defeat and I can't do that. I must believe that there is a way to return to who I was, for myself and for her."
"How long is this going to go on?" Gunn asked Xander impatiently.
Xander shook his head. "I once saw Giles talk Buffy out of the bathroom following an overlooked acne dilemma blamed for a disastrous date incident back in high school. Lasted all of two straight hours. He drank tea the whole time and not once did he take a break to go to the little Watcher's room."
"That's perseverance," Gunn nodded, impressed.
"That's Giles." Xander nodded.
"Enough of this!" Angel yelled. "Come on, Watcher. Let's see who the best man is." He held his sword up, positioning it for a strike as the double glass doors to the building swung open and Wes, Willow , Lorne and Buffy rushed to get to the battling vampires in time.
"Stop this!" Buffy ordered just as Angel brought the broad sword down with a thunderous crash blocked by Giles' blade edge.
Lorne skidded to a frenzied halt beside her and exclaimed, "Buffy's pregnant!"
There was dead silence from the audience, only the faint echo of a triggered car alarm sounded in the backdrop. Buffy, Wes and Willow 's jaw dropped open with disbelief as the green demon quickly turned to face Buffy with an apologetic expression. The crowd was hushed as all eyes turned to Buffy who stared at Lorne with a wounded look. He shrugged helplessly.
"Sorry. Never was good at the whole keeping secrets deal." He grimaced. "I'm usually paid to extract 'em."
"You could have said that back in the elevator!" Willow gave him an angry slap on the shoulder.
Buffy's stricken gazed shifted past Lorne to the frozen forms of Giles and Angel, still locked within defensive and offensive stances, respectively.
"B-Buffy?" Giles' beastly features retracted back into the kindly face of the man she loved and she watched as realization began to dawn on him. She held her breath, her heart pounding out her fear as his jade eyes glimmered with confusion. Then, in an instant, there was something more, the subtlest spark of joy.
"Pregnant?" Dawn squeaked, her eyes darting between Angel, Giles and Buffy. "Who's the father?"
The piercing howl took everyone by surprise and they returned their attention to the two vampires who'd suddenly moved from their previous positions. Giles stood rigid as the sword fell from his hand to the blood splattered cement below. His hands trembled at his sides and his face was twisted with agony. Protruding from dead center of Giles' chest was Angel's broad sword, still gripped within the furious vampire's grasp. He'd run Giles through and still held the blade steady as he growled his wrath to the gasping Watcher.
"Angel no!" Buffy reached out, pleading for Angel to stop.
The crowd was stunned to inaction with the viciousness of the attack.
"Why not?" Angel seethed as he gave the blade a subtle twist, triggering Giles' human features to deform back into the demon and roaring out with anguish. "It's only fair, don't you think." Angel cocked his head sideways and glanced callously over at Buffy with his features returning to his more human form. "Or would you prefer to be doing this yourself?"
Angel released his hold on the blade and stepped a few paces back from Giles, watching as the vampire collapsed onto the ruby pool of his own blood, holding the quivering sword from wobbling within him.
"You did this to me once. Remember, Buffy?" He motioned to his chest then placed his fingers to this sternum, searching. "Right... about... here." Angel's tone spit with bitterness.
"That was a long time ago, Angel," Buffy whispered harshly, her wounded eyes filling with tears.
"Yeah, but the funny thing is... it hurts now, just like it did then. I can feel it, Buffy. And now..." Angel bit back his rage and Buffy could see the shimmer of tears in his eyes as he pointed down to Giles, "... and now, so can he." Angel took one last look at the Watcher who lay bleeding, looking all too human and in shock at his feet and then lifted his regretful gaze back to Buffy.
"I think he feels it, now. Don't you?" Angel choked on his words and with that, he took off running, disappearing into the depths of the city.
The spectators surrounding the scene remained motionless, stunned by the brutal moment. Buffy rushed to Giles' side. She knelt down and tried to gently lift his head to rest on her lap.
"Giles... are you okay?" She could barely manage a whisper as his green eyes met hers. Sweat trickled from his forehead as a shiver rippled along his body.
"I'm so sorry." She said, caressing his cheek tenderly.
"Is it... is it true?" He whispered. "Are you pregnant?"
"Yep," she smiled and shrugged, "Surprise?!"
A serene smile curled along his lips. "I... love... you, Buffy," he wheezed, struggling to reach up and stroke a bloodied finger along her cheek. She leaned down and kissed him gently as the sound of hurried footsteps rushed toward them.
"Is he going to be alright?" Xander asked anxiously.
"He will be once we get the sword out," Wesley advised. "Giles, I need to remove the blade."
Lorne stepped forward with Anya nervously joining beside him. "Folks... before we start the witch hunt..."
"Hey!" Willow objected.
"Sorry... I meant the fox hunt; you need to know that Angel didn't mean to do this. It was the booze... it's cursed." Lorne explained repentantly.
"Cursed?" Wes asked. "How... why?"
"Good questions and I'll look into it later but for now, take my word for it that this is all a case of spiked punch at the prom and that someone better get to our fearless leader before he does some more uncharacteristic impaling."
"Find him..." Giles coughed, a trickle of blood streamed from the corner of his mouth. "... find and stay with Angel. He's crazed..."
"And quite possibly self destructive at the moment," Wesley agreed.
Buffy felt Giles take her hand in his and give it a tender squeeze.
"Go to him," he said softly.
"He's the last person I care about right now." Buffy argued. "After what he did..."
"I'll be fine." Giles insisted gently. "He needs you."
"I think Giles may be right, Buffy." Willow could see the urgency in Giles' eyes. "He's confused and hurt."
"I love you, Giles." With a final kiss, Buffy carefully laid him back to the ground and stood up. "I'll be back as soon as I can." She assured him and looked to Wes. "Take care of him for me."
"I'll do my best." Wes reassured her and they watched as Buffy took off as fast as she could in the direction she'd seen Angel run. Once she was out of sight, everyone's eyes fell on the gasping Watcher below.
"Is she gone?" He asked painfully and with a final check, Wes nodded. "Then get this bloody thing out of me..."
A tortured howl reverberated down the shadowed alley as Buffy made her way down the path she thought Angel had taken. Her instincts told her to turn back, to go help Giles but her heart told her that Angel needed her more. She'd seen him like this before and it almost cost him his life the last time. She ran for miles, hoping to reach him in time.
Buffy had been running for hours when she noticed that the dark night sky was paling. With a check of her watch, she saw that time was growing short. Sunrise was minutes away. Angel's inhuman strength and endurance could enable him to go for miles without resting. She only hoped his rush of adrenalin would wear off quickly.
After a few twists and turns, she finally found herself free from the suffocating, narrow alleyways and out in open space. She crossed a street and found her path blocked by a chain link fence bordering a small urban park. It was nearly abandoned except for a hunched over figure sitting alone on the only remaining intact swing of a swing set. It was Angel and she breathed a sigh of relief. With an easy leap, she bound over the barrier and made her way to him, taking a seat across from him on a stack of roped tires.
They sat silently for a moment; Angel hunched forward, his elbows planted to his knees and his face buried in his hands as he slowly swayed in a small circle. Buffy crossed her arms and stared hardheartedly at him, waiting.
"I'm so stupid."
She found it hard not to agree. "He'll be okay."
Angel jolted upright, his eyes filled with hurt. "Too bad."
"You didn't mean to do that. Lorne said the drinks were cursed or something. You're drunk, angry. You would never mean to hurt Giles."
"Wouldn't I?" He grumbled, shaking his head in frustration. "I told myself it was a simple crush," he said softly. "I told myself that you were confused... that you and Giles were simply trying to take comfort in being there for each other. I never thought that you and he could... that you would ever..." Angel's jaw tensed as he bit back his anger.
"I'm sorry you had to find out that way. I'm sorry you had to find out at all. I didn't mean for this to happen, it just did."
"I wanted to be the one to give you a real life, a normal life. But I can't."
"Neither can he, Angel," Buffy said sadly. "I can't have normal. I'll never have normal. Besides, what's normal?"
"You really want me to answer that?"
"When?" Angel insisted.
"The night before the attack."
"No! That can't be!" Angel jerked to his feet and began to pace. "Vampires can't have..."
"He wasn't a vampire." Buffy interrupted.
"Yes he was, Buffy. I saw it."
"He was given one night... we were given one night together."
"Wha... what does that mean?"
"I don't know, Angel." Buffy said defensively. "There were spirits... ghosts of people we knew who came to each of us and told us we had one night and that Giles would return to being a vampire the next morning."
"What?" Angel chuckled. "You're telling me that you get a little visit from what could have been The First for all you knew, who tells you to go fuck your Watcher and you do it?"
"They didn't tell me to..." Buffy paused, trying to collect her temper. "I love him, Angel."
"You told me you loved me!" He yelled sorrowfully. "What about the time we've spent together since then. Was it all a lie?"
"No. I love you, Angel. I did... I do." Buffy insisted.
"So which is it, Buffy? Which monster do you want to be the father to that bastard kid of yours?"
"Stop, Angel." Buffy warned. "Stop it before you say something..."
Angel waved a demanding finger toward her. "I've already lost one child and I'll be damned if I'm going to let this one go without a fight!"
Buffy's face creased with confusion. "W-what?"