The Angel’s Knight #23 - Revelations
#Los Angeles, October 15, 2017
“Are they gone?”
I am not particularly surprised that Cordelia notices my presence the moment I come in. Blind she may be due to the increasingly violent nature of her visions, but sometimes it seems as if she has been given other senses to compensate. Or maybe she simply foresaw my coming to visit her. Everything is possible. If I never believed that before I certainly do now.
“Most of them, yes,” I answer. “Some of the children are still here, but pretty much everyone who can fight has gone with the others to Sunnydale.”
“I couldn’t. Not until I have some answers.”
She nods, patting the bed beside her in invitation. I move towards her, at the same time eager and reluctant. I need these answers, yet I am scared of them as well. I have tried to come up with explanations on my own and I liked none of them.
“You want to know who and what you are,” Cordelia states.
“I assume you saw everything I learned?”
“Duh! Seeing as I’ve already lived through most parts of your life, does that really come as a surprise to you, Giles?”
I close my eyes, taking a deep breath. “I am not Rupert Giles.”
“Well, to me you are. Just because you are not the first man carrying that name doesn’t mean...”
I jump off the bed, her nonchalance too much for me to take in right now.
“I didn’t exist until that night, Cordelia,” I yell at her. “The real Rupert Giles died and I ... Ethan did something and ... if you have all the answers, then tell me! Who am I? What am I?”
She just looks at me and I wish she wouldn’t wear that bloody mask Tara and I made for her. I want to see her eyes, even if they are nothing but milky-white emptiness. I want to see her face in order to read what she knows about this, about me.
“I’m sorry, Giles,” she whispers. “I can’t imagine how hard this must be for you, even though I’ve seen everything you went through these last two days. I’m sorry, but please remember! No matter what happened that night in London, you are still the same man who was with us in Sunnydale. The same man who helped save the world more times than I can count.”
I’m too agitated to appreciate her words. “What am I, Cordelia? Tell me!”
She sighs deeply, drawing her knees to her chest in obvious discomfort.
“You are Eyghon,” she finally says.
For the next minute or so I can do nothing but stare at her. What did she just say? I must have heard her wrong.
“You are talking nonsense.”
“I am not, Giles. I saw it happen.”
“Saw what happen? I tell you what I saw happen! Eyghon was destroyed! More than twenty years after that night in London! Angel tricked him into jumping into his body and Eyghon was destroyed by the presence of Angel’s own demon. There is nothing left of him! Nothing at all!”
She shakes her head and I realize that my fists are clenched. My breathing is labored and I’m filled with the urge to hit something. Anything.
“The thing that was destroyed in Sunnydale all these years ago was the leftovers, Giles. Those parts of Eyghon that got away from his encounter with Ethan in London. You saw it yourself! Ethan, crazed and insane with power, ripped Eyghon in two. One part got away, crippled and more than a little insane itself, and returned in order to get back at you more than two decades later. The rest...”
Her voice trails off and I walk away from her, aimlessly circling around the room. This can’t be true. None of this can be true. I need to approach this rationally! I’m a Watcher, damn it! I’m supposed to figure out things like this. There has to be some kind of rational explanation for all this.
“Explain to me how this is supposed to be possible, Cordelia!” I look at her again. “Ethan was barely more than a gifted amateur back then. We ... they all were. How is it possible that someone like him was able to ... to tear a demon in half and remake one part of it into a copy of a dead man? Eyghon was powerful. Ancient. We were just children. Explain to me how this is supposed to be possible!”
“I don’t know, Giles,” she admits. “I haven’t seen...”
“I believe I can explain that to you,” a new voice intrudes, cutting off Cordelia mid-sentence.
I whirl around to face the two newcomers who somehow entered the room without either Cordelia or myself noticing. The one who has spoken is but a girl, blonde and with a presence that belies her apparent age. The air seems to waver around her, almost as if reality itself is uncertain what to make of her. The other woman looks almost identical to her, just a few years older. Mid-twenties maybe. There is something familiar about her. Have I met her before somewhere?
“Who are you?” I ask, hearing Cordelia mumble something like “Oh my God” under her breath at the same time.
“We’ve never met, Mr. Giles,” the girl says, smiling at me. “But I believe you had a brief encounter with my mother some years ago.”
Her mother? The woman beside her seems barely old enough to...
“We never met face to face, Mr. Giles,” the older woman says, “but we do have some common ... well, friends would be the wrong word.”
And suddenly I remember. Her face didn’t spark the memory, since I’ve only seen it once, from afar, in a dark nightclub and distorted by the demonic features of a vampire. Her voice, though, her voice is not something I’m going to forget. Soft like silk, sultry, yet with the barest whiff of innocence. I remember that voice from that night long ago. At the time it threatened the life of my Slayer.
“Darla,” I whisper, a cold chill creeping up my spine. I remember Angel telling me that she was somehow resurrected after that night where he killed her to save Buffy. He didn’t say much about it, the episode was too painful and personal for him. I never spend much thought on it myself. Maybe that’s a mistake that is about to haunt me.
“You have nothing to fear from her,” the girl tells me. “I know my mother’s reputation precedes her, but...”
“You are that girl,” Cordelia suddenly says. “That girl I saw in my vision. You and Darla. I saw that you were coming.”
It only just registers that this girl called Darla her mother. Her mother? I’ve never heard a vampire refer to her Sire as ‘mother’. Except maybe Drusilla, but she was mad as a hatter. And ... that girl is not a vampire, is she? Over the years I’ve developed a certain instinct when it comes to vampires and somehow I think ... no, I know that this girl is not a vampire. She’s alive. But how...?
“I know you have many questions,” the girl says, still smiling. “I wish we had time to answer them all. I wish I knew the answers to them all. I do have some answers for you, Mr. Giles. If you are willing to listen.”
I consider the situation. I don’t know about this girl, but Darla is one of the most powerful vampires on the face of the planet. If she wanted to kill us I doubt we would still be alive. I don’t know how she could even get in here. Tara cast a spell over this building years ago, preventing all vampires except Angel from entering.
So, seeing as we’re not dead yet, we might as well listen.
“Go on,” I tell her.
“Cordelia was right,” she began. “You began your existence as Eyghon, a demon. When the first Rupert Giles died ...”
“Yes, the first. I am trying to make you understand what happened, Mr. Giles. It has a lot to do with the nature of magic. The true nature, I might add, which only a handful of people have ever managed to figure out. Your friend Fred is very close to the truth, as are some others. They are about to lift the veil of ignorance that has been cast over all of you.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Let me try to explain. You are right, of course. A group of young amateur sorcerers could not possibly be capable of bending an ancient, powerful demon to their will, much less recreate it into a man. That is what happened, though. So tell me, Mr. Giles, what is the logical conclusion?”
I stare at this girl who talks with the voice of a scholar and I find that my logic has quite thoroughly abandoned me. I can only shake my head in ignorance.
“How did your friends first learn about Eyghon, Mr. Giles?” she continues. “Ethan and the first Rupert Giles found some ancient books, they read a legend about a demon called the sleepwalker, and you conjured magical power in order to summon this demon.”
I nod. Some parts of my ... of Rupert Giles’ past may be hazy, but I remember that much.
“But what if that demon never existed in the first place? What if that ancient book they read was nothing but a fairy tale, written down by some superstitious fools long ago?”
“What are you talking about? Eyghon was real! Very real!”
She nods. “Yes. Because Ethan and the others made him so.”
I hear Cordelia gasp behind me as another vision floods into her mind.
“They gave it flesh,” she whispers. “They made myth into reality.”
“Magic is based in quantum theory, Mr. Giles,” the child continues. “If enough people believe in something, then it becomes real. Sometimes it doesn’t even take a lot of people. Six people could be enough if they were strong and dedicated, dabbling in magic already.”
I try to make sense of everything I’m hearing, but failing miserably. Myth made flesh? A demon created from the belief of six foolish youths? I don’t understand.
“Ethan and the others created you that night, Mr. Giles. At first they told you that you were Eyghon, and so you were Eyghon. You could not help but be Eyghon. You did what they expected Eyghon to do.”
I look down at my hands as flashes of memory fill my vision. That night again, but I see it from another perspective. I’m standing inside the conjuring circle and I feel my hand, my clawed hand, sink into the soft flesh of a human being. A human with my face. Rupert Giles. I’m killing Rupert Giles even as he kills my host.
“And then, when Ethan was overcome with grief and madness, he wanted Eyghon gone. So Eyghon disappeared. Not completely, no. He was real now, to a certain extent, and was not so easily vanquished. The important thing is, though, that the largest part of this creature that thought it was a demon was left behind and reshaped into something else.”
I remember. A body that looks like Rupert Giles, but empty. Eyes looking out into the world without so much as a spark of recognition. An empty shell waiting for ... something.
“Do you remember?” the child asks. “You were remade into a man, but you didn’t know what kind of man you were supposed to be. Then Ethan called you Rupert. He gave you a name. And so, naturally, you became Rupert. You could not be anything else but Rupert.”
“But Ethan was already half-mad,” Cordelia suddenly interjects, “so he couldn’t finish the job. I’m right, ain’t I? That’s why there are all these quirks and mess-ups in Giles’ memory, right?”
“Ethan lost his mind that night. On some level he knew what he had done and it led him down a route into madness. He knew that he had somehow recreated his friend and lover from nothingness and his mind couldn’t take it. He started worshipping Chaos later on because that way he didn’t need to make sense of any of it.”
“But ... but the others ...”
“Denial, Mr. Giles. I believe you’ve seen that particular kind of magic at work more than once, haven’t you? They helped bury the body of the first Rupert Giles, but a few nights later they had all managed to convince themselves that it had been Randall. After all, you were still there, weren’t you? So clearly you couldn’t have died.
“Unfortunately that left you at something of a loss, didn’t it? Your sense of self was incomplete. You knew you were Rupert Giles, but you had no clear idea who Rupert Giles was supposed to be. The others avoided you, unconsciously knowing that you were something new and strange, so they couldn’t help you with that. When your group disbanded after that night you went back to the people you remembered to be your parents and they told you to be a Watcher. So naturally you became a Watcher, even though that was something the old Rupert Giles never wanted to be.”
This can’t be true, can it? Is that what I am? Some kind of incomplete creature that took bits and pieces of self-definition wherever it could find them? Watcher because my parents said so? Tweed-clad British twit because that was what Buffy and her friends expected me to be?
I remember when Olivia first visited me in Sunnydale. She arrived and called me Ripper and it was so easy to fall back into the old behavior patterns. With her I could be Ripper, confident and at ease. Only because that was what she expected me to be?
When Wesley came to relieve me as Watcher he expected to find a Watcher gone rogue and suddenly I was a different man. One that could sword-fight, who kept his cool in any given situation, who had no regard for the rules whatsoever.
Good Lord, this can’t be true! It simply can’t be.
“I know it’s difficult, Mr. Giles,” Darla says, abandoning the silence she kept until now. “Finding out that you are something different from what you always thought you were. Believe me, once you simply accept it, things get easier.”
“What would you know about that?” Cordelia sneers at her. If I wasn’t somewhat preoccupied I might have reminded her that it was a bad idea to antagonize a vampire strong enough to rip us both limb from limb without even trying.
“You said you saw me in your visions, didn’t you?” Darla asks instead, amazingly calm. “Did you by any chance see some unusual things?”
Cordelia hesitates for a long moment. “I ... I saw you walking in daylight.”
“And vampires can’t do that, can they? Just as ancient powerful demons can’t be remade into human beings.”
I stare at her, her words clicking together in my head. I never understood how Wolfram & Hart could possibly resurrect a vampire that had been reduced to ashes. I spent many an hour going over those scrolls they used in order to find out how they did it, but without success.
“You ...,” I begin, unable to form a complete sentence.
“I was born in a box, Mr. Giles. The people outside told me that I was someone called Darla, a vampire brought back human. They were a lot more persuasive than your old friend Ethan Rayne could ever hope to be. I didn’t lack any self-definition. I became Darla and, no matter the complete impossibility of it all, I never doubted my own identity for even a second.”
“What changed?” Cordelia asks, her voice clearly showing that she is not quite a believer yet. And me? I’m not sure what to believe anymore. Just because an explanation does seem to make sense doesn’t mean it’s true, is it? Darla is a known enemy and the girl, we know nothing about her.
“Some things happened to me,” Darla explains, “that didn’t quite go together with me being a vampire. Vampires can’t get pregnant for one thing, can they?”
She looks at the girl beside her and her eyes hold such obvious and honest affection that I find myself tempted to believe her. A vampire can’t feel things like love, can it? Angel being the notable exception.
“You mean you are really her daughter?” I ask the girl. “How is that possible? And how is it you presume to know all these things?”
“It’s a long story, Mr. Giles, one I’ll be glad to share with you. All of you. I doubt we have time to tell it more than once. I would very much like for everyone to be there to hear it. Especially my father.”
Her father? Who is ... oh my God. I remember what little Angel told me about his final encounter with Darla. He was trying to lose his soul, so he ... but that’s impossible. Vampires can’t ... well, if Darla isn’t, but ... Angel is still a vampire. His seed is dead. He can’t possibly have ...
“Angel is the father,” Darla puts an end to my racing thoughts. “Impossible, I know. I haven’t heard the full story on that one yet, either. Just look at her eyes, Mr. Giles. I believe they will answer all your questions.”
Her eyes. They seemed so familiar before. Now, taking a closer look, I understand why. I have seen these eyes before. I have seen them look empty and cruel, I’ve seen them look full of remorse and guilt. I’ve seen them sparkle when Buffy was there and I’ve seen them filled with tears after she died.
My God! It’s really true, isn’t it?
“So ...,” Cordelia says after some uncomfortable silence. “You want to go to after Angel and the others?” Wisely she chooses not to reveal where they have gone.
“We have to go to Sunnydale, yes,” the girl says. “You three will come with us.”
“Three?” I look around, but there is just Cordelia and me. For a moment I consider the possibility that this child is mad. Oh please, let her be mad!
“Yes, Mr. Giles. If you look carefully into the corner to your right you will see that one more person is here in this room. Has been here for some time, actually. You just haven’t noticed her yet.”
I look at the corner she indicated, but there is nothing there except shadows and ... no, something is there. It’s almost as if ... how come I didn’t see ... don’t I know this girl? Oh my God.
TO BE CONTINUED