I Should Tell You
Title: I Should Tell You
Series: The Man with the Past-Part 1
Timeline: This takes place early in Season 2.
Notes: This is (another) answer to challenge #116 at TNL. Let's make Giles Immortal! Crossover with Highlander: The Series.
Summary: There's more to mild-mannered librarian, Rupert Giles, than meets the eye.
Archive: T_N_L. Anyone else who wants it, just ask and I'll be happy to give it to you.
Disclaimer: The characters and concepts in this story belong to other people. I didn't even think up the idea myself.
Feedback: Happily accepted! E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Buffy entered the library and looked around. "Giles?"
Giles poked his head out of the book cage. "Just getting some equipment ready for our training session. I'll be ready in a moment."
Buffy dropped her books on a nearby table and wandered over to the cage. "Hey, ya know, I was thinking maybe if I finished patrol early tonight, I could go have some fun."
Giles sighed audibly as he pulled weapons and equipment from the cage. "Buffy we have talked about this. You have a responsibility."
"I know," Buffy recited as she rolled her eyes, "I'm the Chosen. I have to protect the world from evil." Buffy jumped in front of Giles and looked pleadingly into his eyes. "But I'm also a teenager. I need fun, friends, music, laughter." Buffy giggled, "Boys."
"That noise you listen to is not music," Giles muttered. "We'll see. After training, after patrol." Giles sighed as Buffy started bouncing excitedly. "We'll see," he repeated firmly. Buffy bounded into his arms to give him a grateful hug. After a brief squeeze, Giles pushed her arms firmly to her sides. "Train. Patrol. After that, we'll see."
"Yay," Buffy allowed before calming herself and preparing for training.
Giles stood for a moment and looked at the girl who was the Slayer. In all his years, he had only met one other woman who stirred the same mix of affection and exasperation in him. And Heaven help us all if Buffy and Amanda ever meet, Giles thought shaking his head in wonder.
"Hey," Buffy called, breaking into Giles' thoughts. "The sooner we get started, the sooner we finish. And the sooner we finish, the sooner I get to go Bronzin'."
Willow and Xander wandered into the library, as Buffy and Giles were finishing training.
"Hey, guys," Buffy said brightly as she helped Giles off the floor. "What's the what?"
"Just makin' sure you're up for a little Bronzin' tonight," Xander said. "So, G-man, can Buffy come out and play?"
"Buffy needs to patrol and all of you have homework, I'm quite sure." Giles said tiredly.
"Aw, come on," Xander protested, "Nobody does homework on Friday night. Not even Willow."
"Hey," Willow said as she punched Xander playfully on the arm.
"Hey, ow," Xander said, rubbing his shoulder. "I got an idea, patrol party!"
"Absolutely not," Giles said angrily. "This is not a game. This is a responsibility which Buffy needs to take more seriously."
"But Xander and I took over patrols last summer while Buffy was visiting her dad. I mean, okay, nothing happened, but still, Xander and I handled it." Willow smiled winningly as she tried to persuade the old librarian. "We can help Buffy be responsible."
"Besides," Xander added, "You know we're gonna do it anyway. You might as well teach us how."
Giles sighed, knowing he was beaten. Xander was right, the teenagers would do whatever the bloody hell they pleased and it was up to Giles to make sure they all stayed as safe as one could be while living on a Hellmouth.
"Fine, you win," Giles stated irritably. "But you do exactly as I say, no questions, no arguments."
"Yippee," Willow said happily.
"Well," Xander rubbed his hands together enthusiastically, "What are we waiting for? Let's get going"
The night's patrol had been completely uneventful. Of course, Giles thought to himself, with all the noise the children were making chatting and gossiping among themselves, it was a good thing nothing was happening.
"Will all of you please keep it down?" Giles asked irritably.
"Aw, come on Giles, it's pretty clear there's nothing going on tonight," Buffy said. "All quiet on the Hellmouth front." She looked at her watch. "How 'bout we knock off a tiny bit early."
"Yeah, how 'bout it G-man." "Come on, please?" Xander and Willow piped up excitedly.
Giles knew he was lost. "Oh, all right. We'll take one more pass through the cemetery and then all of you can be on your way."
Unnoticed behind them, a figure clad in black that had been following the group decided to strike. It slipped from the shadows and raised its crossbow and fired.
With a grunt, Giles fell to the ground, the crossbow bolt sticking out of his back.
"Xander, Willow help him," Buffy ordered as she took off in the direction of the shooter.
Xander rolled Giles onto his side. Giles coughed up bright red blood onto his shirt.
"Oh, God," Xander breathed. "Willow get that arrow out of him."
"A-are you sure th-that's a good idea?" Willow asked nervously. "I mean, what if that- what if it," she gave a frightened gulp, "makes it worse?"
Xander felt on Giles neck, trying to find a pulse. "Trust me, Will," Xander said grimly as Giles wheezed and coughed more blood, "I don't think we can make it worse."
Buffy returned a few minutes later to find Xander and Willow holding each other and sobbing. The crossbow she brought back slipped from her suddenly numb fingers.
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry," Xander whispered over and over.
"Oh my God," Buffy breathed as she fell to her knees. "Is he- is he," she broke off, overcome with grief.
"We tried, Buffy, we tried so hard," Willow sobbed. "We pulled it out. We tried to stop the blood."
"Oh, God," Xander said as he crawled a short distance away and lost the contents of his stomach.
Willow made her way to Buffy and the two girls embraced as they cried. Xander joined them after he finished vomiting and had wiped his mouth shakily on his sleeve.
"At least I killed it," Buffy said through her tears. "I killed the thing that did this. I killed the thing that did this to Giles."
As the three of them sobbed in grief, they didn't notice the blue sparks that danced along Giles' wound.
Giles drew in a ragged breath and sat up. "Well, that hasn't happened in a while," he said mildly. All eyes turned to him, stunned, as he looked around. "I suppose an explanation is in order. I can assure all of you that I'm perfectly fine."
Buffy pressed him back down to the ground and tried to find his wound. She sat back; stunned as the only evidence of Giles' injury was the hole in his shirt.
"How is this possible?" Buffy dried her tears and sniffled loudly. "How did this happen?"
"Let's get back to my apartment and I'll explain," Giles answered. He noticed the crossbow lying forgotten next to Buffy. He picked it up and examined it closely. "Buffy where did you get this?"
"I got it from the demon that- I killed it." Buffy took a deep breath to stop the tears that threatened to start again. "I saw the markings on it. I thought you could- but then I got back and you were- you..."
Giles quickly wrapped the three students in a strong hug. "Let's get home and get cleaned up. I'll make some tea and then I'll explain everything."
Buffy had taken to keeping a change of clothes at Giles' apartment for emergencies. She gave them to Willow while Giles found a pair of sweats and a t-shirt for Xander.
After everyone had showered and changed, they gathered in the living room. Giles handed out tea to everyone.
Giles set down his cup and took off his glasses to clean them. Looking at his hands as if only then noticing what he was doing, he shook his head and put his glasses back on. Taking a sip of his tea and sighing softly, Giles began. "My given name is Annan Blaeny. The Gaelic roughly translates to 'He who is of the river', which is where I was found as an infant. I am over fifteen hundred years old. I cannot get sick, nor can I die. As all of you saw, I can heal even fatal injuries. I am Immortal."
Various gasps of shock and surprise could be heard from the small audience. Giles looked down into his tea as he continued. "We make it a practice not to tell anyone this secret. If it got out, all of my kind could be put in great jeopardy."
"But if you're Immortal," Willow exclaimed, "What could possibly harm you?"
"I may be Immortal but I certainly am not invincible. Let me tell my story and you may ask any questions afterwards."
Willow, Xander and Buffy looked dubiously at each other, and then turned their attention back to Giles.
"I was found near the banks of the River Tweed," with a pointed look at Xander he added quickly, "And please, no jokes."
Xander concealed a chuckle behind his hand, but wisely remained silent.
"I grew up in a small village and lived quite happily for twenty-seven summers. I was hand-fasted to a lovely young woman of the village, but when she failed to catch with child after a year and a day, we parted and I remained alone. I didn't know then that I would never be able to have children." Giles stopped for a moment to sip his tea and collect his thoughts. It had been a very long time since he had allowed these memories to surface and he found himself nearly overcome with emotions he had thought long forgotten. The next part of the story would be the most difficult, and he cursed the Immortal ability of complete recall. The memories of his first death and the violence that followed swirled behind his eyes.
"My first death occurred during a summer rainstorm. I had been fishing and failed to get to shelter before the storm hit. Just on the outskirts of the village, a bolt of lightning felled a tree on me. It was quite clear to the villagers who saw, that I had been killed. They braved the storm to pull the tree off me and pull me into the healer's hut. When my wounds healed and I lived anew, I was declared to be a servant of the Devil and stoned by my friends and family as I fled from my home." He grimaced as he sipped his now-cold tea; then shrugged and gulped the remainder. He went to the liquor cabinet and, forgoing the pretense of tea, poured himself a triple shot of scotch.Giles refused to acknowlgedge the startled and confused looks the children were exchanging.
After gulping half the fiery liquor, Giles continued. "I wandered randomly around Northumbria for a while and then drifted into Wales. There, I met another Immortal. He called himself Joseph and he became my teacher. I learned that there were others of us in the world and that we tried to take each other's heads in what had become known as the Game. Joseph taught me how to use a sword and how to defend myself from other Immortals who would take from me my head and my Quickening, my power. He told me that I could seek refuge on Holy Ground; that no Immortal would fight there. He showed me how to fake aging but even so, he warned me that I could never settle in one place for more than a few years at a time. We traveled the world together for more than ten years. From Joseph I learned not only how to stay alive, but how to live. I learned to read and write in several languages. Joseph gave me an appreciation for art and we visited the wonders of the world. When I gained confidence in my ability to take care of myself I decided to find my own way in the world. With Joseph's blessing, we parted company."
"Wow," Willow breathed, "whatever happened to him?"
"Last I heard, he was traveling with a certain Scot who is quite a legendary fighter. They split their time between Paris and Washington State." Giles felt a smile tug at his mouth as he pictured the pair. "It seems rather an unlikely friendship as Joseph's past is somewhat checkered and MacLeod is known as an overgrown boy scout."
"How many people- um, I mean Immortals- have you, um, well, you know, killed?" Xander asked nervously.
Giles looked at each of the students in turn before he answered. "I have never killed when I didn't need to. I have killed far more than I ever wanted to." He stood quietly and let the young people absorb his story and come to their own conclusions about it. He sipped his drink and tried very hard not to look worried. He hadn't wanted to tell them about his Immortality at all. To be perfectly honest, Giles wasn't sure how his young friends would accept his revelation.
Willow stared at Giles thoughtfully. "But you're-you're still you, right? I mean, even with the weird way you're talking now, and the whole age thing-" Willow asked hesitantly, "You're still our Giles, aren't you?"
Giles chuckled quietly. "Yes Willow. I'm still me. On the rare occasions that I reminisce about the past, I suppose I do speak a bit differently. I hope all of you will forgive the ramblings of an old man." He approached her slowly and cautiously reached for her hand.
She took it and smiled at him. "I'm glad. And I do. Forgive you."
He squeezed her hand briefly and released it, stepping back. He looked to Buffy, whose decision mattered, perhaps most of all.
"Well," she started slowly, looking Giles up and down carefully, "as long as you're still you..." She stepped over to him and gave him a warm hug.
"Umm, so, does this mean we're okay," Xander asked hesitantly, "'cause if it does, then I think we should all get home and get to sleep." His statement was punctuated with a huge yawn.
"Yes," Giles said, "Xander is right. We've all had a long day and quite a shock. I should get all of you home now. It is definitely time for sleep."
"Wow, Xander's right. I guess there's a first time for everything." Buffy laughed as she dodged Xander's playful punch.
Giles shook his head in wonderment at their easy acceptance of him as he shooed the teenagers out the door.
"Come on," he said with a chuckle. "I'll drive all of you home."
© 2003 Leah R. Roman