Chapter 4 - Vampire’s Night
The damp asphalt had a slight glimmer to it under the harsh, white street lights. A thin fog was rolling in, likely forced up a valley from the coast. Giles knew they must have driven inland at some point that day. Even his enhanced sense of smell was only catching the odd hint of ocean on the breeze. The main street he was walking down was empty, except for a single car hurrying though. He could tell that it must be a pretty, little town in the daylight hours. But, at this hour, stalking time for his kind, it was cold, uninviting, and dead.
The noises of an open bar drifted to him from a side street and he followed. He met the usual cliental as he approached the entrance. Drunks who had wandered out but had nowhere else to go, lonely people on their way to another one night stand, and the ladies of the night trying to earn enough money to keep them going.
“Hey, handsome… Looking for some fun?” one of them cooed the usual greeting.
Giles hunched his shoulders, hiding deeper in his coat. “Not tonight, thank you,” he muttered.
“Wow, polite and sounding like that… Might be willing to give this one a discount,” another one sidled up to him and purred.
“Believe me, Ladies, you don’t want anything to do with--”
“Maybe he thinks we can’t handle him.” The third voice was oddly sweet with a familiar timber that brought his eyes up to see the woman who now swayed in front of him. He stood frozen, transfixed by the light that gleamed off of her copper hair. In reality, she didn’t look much like Willow, but at that moment, in his eyes, the girl that never left his mind was there.
It wasn’t long before he had this redheaded stranger pressed against the brick wall of an empty alleyway.
“Calm down, Baby. I’ll take care of what you need.”
“It’s time. I’m tired of waiting for you,” Giles rumbled. His hands were working to hike her short skirt up to give him access.
“No waiting, Baby,” she was working to open his already straining fly. “Tell me what you want.”
He pressed harder against her. “Ask me to show you the face you could love,” Giles growled the order.
A look of confusion crossed the woman’s face, but she shrugged. After all, it wasn’t the weirdest thing she’d ever been asked to do. She put on a sexy voice, “Show me the face I could love.”
Then he was still, staring into her eyes from mere inches away. His hand was gentle as it took hers and brought it up to place it on his cheek. She let him lay it along his cold face, trying to let him do whatever made him happy.
“Tell me you’re sorry for turning me into this.”
Her eyes narrowed a bit more. Was this guy for real? It was the strangest role-play she’d ever participated in. But she sighed, “I’m sorry for turning you into this.”
He ducked his head to her left as he lifted her into position and she slid easily into place. The redhead relaxed against him, hooking her long legs around his hips. This was the part she was used to. But he was strong enough to hold her weight and was generous with his technique. He even had enough to him to hit all the good spots, which surprised her considering how chilly he felt. This was certainly not the worst John she’d ever dealt with.
“I need you, Willow,” he breathed into her ear.
Giles felt the pressure rising in his loins. He needed release. But the hunger, the hunger was too strong. His face changed as his lips brushed against her neck, feeling the blood rushing through the artery, teasing him. His sharp fangs danced at the ready, waiting the claim their prize. The monster in him roared.
“What are you waiting for?” Justin leaned casually on the wall beside them. “You know it’s what you need. You can stand there and fuck the bitch all night, but without tasting her you’ll never get anywhere.” His protégé leaned in close. “Take her. All of her. Who’s going to miss a dirty whore?”
Giles cried out, stepping back and dropping the redhead unceremoniously to the ground.
“What’s going on? What’s wrong with you?”
The vampire kept his face turned away from her and he dug all the money out of his pocket and threw it into her lap. “Go,” he ordered.
“I don’t know what’s wrong with you, but no one treats me like--”
He spun sharply, showing her the monster. “Run away, now!”
With a scream, she grabbed the money, scrambled to her feet, and made her way unsteadily, but quickly, down the alley.
“Aww. Why did you go and do that?” Justin asked in disappointment.
Giles threw himself around, punching the wall where they had just been. His fist slammed into the brick and mortar, causing some to chip and fall away. He reared back and hit it again and again, grinding the fresh powder into his broken knuckles. After he had formed a large divot in the wall, he sank to his knees, pressing his forehead into the rough surface.
Justin crouched down beside him. “So this is what you’ve become, a child throwing a tantrum. A scared little boy hiding from what he is, cowering from everything he feels. This is what a soul has reduced my master to.”
Giles turned to sit with his back to the wall. “I’m not your master,” he breathed with a shaky voice.
“No. My master stood strong and took all he wanted from this world. He loved freely, fed freely, and killed freely.” The young vampire pulled the neck of his shirt aside. “I’m proud to bear his mark. That I lost him to the likes of you disgusts me.”
“Justin, you were killed by a monster. And I am sorry for that. But I am not a murderer.”
“You’re not?” Another voice came from the darkness across the alleyway. “What was my crime when you took my life? You were still human, still had that soul you claim makes so you different from the demon. Was I evil when you murdered me?”
Giles looked up to see Ben walking toward him. He shook his head as he scrambled to his feet and tried to move away. “Y-you must understand, I did what was necessary. Glory had to be stopped.”
“So you took my innocent life. The last thing I ever saw was your cool, calculating eyes staring down at me with no mercy.” Ben began to turn blue, the capillaries in his eyes and nose hemorrhaging as Giles watched. “I was going to be a doctor. All I wanted to do was help people. I saved your life!”
Ben disappeared as a child’s laughter spun the vampire around to search down the dark alley. The laughter rang out again, but the source kept itself hidden. “Ring around the rosy…” the little girl’s voice echoed around him.
“Pocket full of poesies…” it seemed to come from everywhere at once.
“Please… I didn’t mean for any of it to happen.”
“I’m so sorry for what happened to you. Please, Robyn?”
The pretty, little blonde stood in front of him, her voice becoming something dark and ugly. “We all fall down.” She turned to ash and crumbled away before he could even move.
Giles fell to his knees, hunched over with his face in his hands. He wept for several minutes until a new voice came from above him. This one sounded sympathetic when it sighed, “Oh, Rupert…”
The vampire’s eyes shot up to the beautiful face. “Jenny?”
“Look what you’re doing to yourself. You don’t deserve this. You’re a good man, my love.”
He slumped over to sit on the pavement, knowing better than to reach for her and dispel the perfect vision. “I’ve tried so hard. I don’t know if there is anything good left to me.”
She smiled. “You keep fighting, but you don’t have to. It’s done now. It’s your turn to rest.”
“I can’t. Not yet, not when all the people I care about are still in danger.”
“Oh, you mean the ones who did this to you, who were too selfish to think about what was best for you for a change? Why should you keep suffering for them?”
“They only did what they thought best, Jenny. They are young and scared.”
The vision threw her hands up, “And now he’s defending them. Your fight was over, Sweetie. You were supposed to be with me.”
Giles lowered his gaze and mumbled sadly, “But you don’t need me. They still do.”
“Or do you mean Willow does?” Her face was accusing when he looked back up at the sharp question.
“Jenny, you’ve been dead a very long time,” he said carefully. “Willow has been through so much in the past few years. We both have.”
“And so now you’re in love with the doe-eyed, little innocent…”
He slowly got to his feet. “I loved you, and what we had could have grown into something special given the chance. But all of that was stolen from us, and we can never get it back. As long as I’m on this Earth I must follow my heart. Right now it’s leading me to Willow. I’m sorry if you find that unacceptable.”
“Oh, I get it,” the ghost nodded. “I always liked Willow. She reminds me a lot of me. I get what you see in her. I’m just a little worried about her. What has she done to deserve such a fate?”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, come on, Rupert… It’s not like your love has ever really been a benefit to anyone.” She gave a pout as pain overshadowed his face.
“I mean, our short romance didn’t have the smoothest sailing. And then after all that trouble, what did we have?”
“I never meant to hurt you,” the vampire whispered lamely.
“You never mean to hurt anybody, do you? But it never stops, Rupert.” At that her face changed before his eyes. In a moment he was dumbstruck as he stared at…
Diedre, “I loved you. Now I’m dead.”
Randall, “Best friends, mate. Dead.”
Buffy, “A father’s love. Twice dead.”
Joyce, “One night. Dead.”
Tara, “You were the one man I knew I could trust. Dead.”
His mother, “Why are you crying, Darling?” She reached out but didn’t touch him. “I loved you… even when you broke my heart and I died.”
And then Jenny returned. “Should I go on?”
“No,” Giles whimpered. “Please don’t.”
“I’m not trying to hurt you, Sweetie. Just make you think. Are you really what Willow needs? What can you offer her that’s different from all the rest of us?”
“I think I need her,” his statement was nearly inaudible.
Jenny shook her head slowly. “Rupert, you’re big enough to know the difference between need and want.”
Giles opened his mouth in near defeat, but his final protest died on his lips. Instead, a scream rang out, piercing through the silent night.
“Oh my,” Jenny rolled her eyes. “There goes another one. And you didn’t even have to love her, just your touch was enough…”
Before she finished, Giles was on the move, flying down the alley in the direction the redhead had gone. He rounded a corner to find her in the clutches of two robed men.
“Let go of me you freaks!” she cried.
Giles ran at them, tackling everyone to the ground. He managed to pull her up from the tangle of limbs. Her first look of relief was soon turned into fear as she recognized him as the original freak of the night. He pushed her on, his face again contorting into the demon and yelled, “Run! Don’t stop until you’re home.”
When he turned to face the attackers, he was surprised to see that they had no eyes, only strange symbols carved into their faces. This didn’t stop them from pulling out long daggers and coming at him. He ducked and dodged, throwing them off again and again, but they were fast, strong, and committed. One of them managed to slice into his gut and Giles howled at the pain. Grabbing the enemy by the head, he jerked it sharply and heard the satisfying snap of a neck.
The other lunged at him and Giles threw himself full force into this fight. All of his rage, all of his frustration, all of his guilt and confusion he released on the priest. Tearing at him, pounding into him, not even heeding the few times the knife hit its mark. It was an overwhelming onslaught, but the vampire never realized when his foe had stopped resisting, stopped moving. By the time Giles had come back to his senses, he was still slamming his fists into a gooey puddle on the ground that had once been the robed man’s head.
The voice in his ear was very pleased. “This is what you are. Why fight it? All you have to do is ask, and I’ll gladly take the pain and uncertainty from you. Join me and I’ll make you into what you were meant to be.”
Giles slowly got to his feet and began to numbly stumble away from the carnage. He slid his fingers inside his coat and pulled out a rumpled, unopened envelope. His name scrolled lovingly across the front in Willow’s delicate script. The blood on his hands soaked through it as he crumpled it up and tossed it aside.
“Are you listening to me, Spike?”
The blonde vampire jerked in his chair, dropping an empty whiskey bottle. He slowly sat up and lit a cigarette. “Tryin’ my damnedest not to,” he drawled. “Why the hell are you here anyway? Left for the girl’s own good… New life in L.A… An’ all that rot. Not that I’m complaining.”
Angel rolled his eyes. “I’m here because I still care about these people. I thought you did, too.”
Spike glared up at him. “I care enough to be here. To help ‘em out even when I know I’m not wanted.”
“Right. And we know things they can’t understand. We’ve done things they can’t even imagine. It’s up to us to keep them from getting more hurt than they have to.”
“You’re talkin’ ‘bout the Watcher, aren’t you,” Spike sighed.
“You and I are the only ones who know what he’s going through. We’ve been through it. The confusion, the fear, the rage… No matter how tight a lid he might think he has on it when he comes back, one day it’s all going to overwhelm him, and the people he cares about will be the ones getting hurt. This is for his good, too. You saw how guilty he felt when he wasn’t even in control. Think of what it will do to him when he is.”
“So, if he’s so dangerous, why were we all fine sendin’ the Nibblet off with him?”
Angel sighed, “Dawn’s different. We know he won’t hurt her. She’s just a kid. Anyway, that other guy went to keep an eye on her.”
“You mean the one nobody here trusts as far as they can toss him?” Spike chuckled. “Yeah, he’ll be the one to stand between her and a raging vamp. Bloody jackass,” he added in a mutter.
“Just… Forget about Ethan freakin’ Rayne! We both know that the girl can’t do anything to set Giles off like that. But, when he gets back here… When he sees Willow again… Humans think we don’t love like they do, that it’s all lust and blood for vampires. And, to some extent, they’re right. That’s what the demon is after. But we both know there’s more to it. We let them think they feel deeper and love fiercer… The truth is, they couldn’t handle the way we love. The way Giles is learning he’ll love from now on. It’s deep, and it’s primal, and it’s dangerous.”
“Watcher’s strong. He’ll be able to take it.”
“But can Willow?” Angel frowned. “She’s still so young. She’s still trying to figure out how relationships work. What if he does something she can’t forgive him for? What if she finds out that she doesn’t really want a dead man? What if, sometime in the future, she rejects him? Do you think he’ll be able to walk away? Or will he react more like you did when Buffy said ‘no’?”
Spike stood up, grabbed an empty bottle, and threw it at the other vampire. It crashed against the far wall. He blinked in confusion. Spike may have been drunk, but he knew when he was on target, and Angel couldn’t have moved that fast. However, his anger was already shooting words from his mouth. “I was not the man I am when that happened. I went and won my soul back for the girl. And still I have to try harder every day to be what she deserves. At least I’m here and I’m not running away.” He stalked forward, driving Angel back. “And as for the Watcher. He was a better man than either of us could have ever claimed to be. Yes, he’s one of us now. The walking damned who can’t hope to do enough good to make our existence right. But he came from a good man, and that foundation is still in him. I’ll be here watching when he comes back. I’ll decide what needs doing to keep these people from hurting each other. You can go back where you belong and do whatever it is you’re supposed be doing.”
Spike stumbled and fell, passed out drunk on the floor. At the same time, Angel vanished.
Buffy shut the door quietly after coming in from patrol. She went to the couch and shook Xander gently.
“Hey, Buff,” he blinked up at her groggily. “What’s goin’ on in freak town?”
“Not much,” she smiled as he sat up. “Actually, it’s almost too quiet these days. Makes me on edge, like something bad’s coming.”
“Well, if the next Big Bad does show its face around here, it’ll have to deal with us. And I’ll put my money on us every time.”
Buffy smiled at him. “Thanks for staying with Willow while I was out. Everything good?”
Xander sighed. “There was one nightmare right after you left. But a cup of tea and some best friend goofing around soon put the smile back on her face.” He looked at his watch. “We just finished a movie about an hour ago. She took one of those sleeping pills, so she should be out ‘til morning.”
“That sounds good. As long as it’s just nightmares, we can handle that.”
“Do you really think something got in here just to mess with Willow’s head?”
“We can never be too careful in this town. And you didn’t see how freaked out she was the other night. Sometimes I even think I can hear her talking to someone. But she won’t tell me, she just cries.”
Xander took her hand. “I’m here, whatever you need.”
“Have you heard from Dawn and Giles?”
Buffy smiled sadly. “Dawn calls every day. She’s excited about everything they’re seeing, but she’s also worried about Giles. He seems to be withdrawing more and more all the time. He’s still pissed at me, which I get, but he won’t even talk to Willow. I’m scared. Maybe we’ll never get him back.”
“G-man will be okay. If something is at all possible, he can do it. We just need to be patient while he sorts himself out. You watch, he’ll be standing right there, giving us a lecture in no time.”
“Thank you, Xan,” Buffy pulled him up. “I know you have work in the morning. You’d better get home and get some sleep. Thanks again for the Willow watching.”
Xander hugged her tightly. “No prob. My favorite pastime. And I’m serious… You guys call whenever you need anything.”
... To Capter 5