Disclaimer: The characters of Buffy Summers, Rupert Giles, Angel, Cordelia Chase, Willow Rosenberg and Parker Abrahams(some of whom appear in name only), do not belong to me. They are the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy and Fox Productions. Likewise, the characters of Ami Jackson, Adam Newman, and Megabyte Damon (all of whom appear in name only) and the concept of The Tomorrow People is not mine. They are the property of Roger Damon Price, Thames Television, ITV, and Tetra Television. All are used here without permission but no copyright infringement is intended.
Author's Notes: This story is a sequel set after my first story, "A Union of Souls." You may want to read that one first.
Lies of Omission
Idly rubbing the back of his neck, Rupert Giles picked up the small saucer containing a tea cup and marched with determined strides towards his living room area. The small coffee table was laden with magick books and odd history texts, bearing the same disorganized look that it often bore during a late night research session. However, this research did not involve the Hellmouth, or the Vampire Slayer, or her friends, the Slayerettes. This research was a favor for a few new friends. Or, at least if not friends, someone whose trust he had earned, however tenuous that trust was, and he would not let them down.
As he settled down onto the sofa, pulling the nearest text to him across the coffee table, his mind inevitably flickered back to the events that had transpired during what should have been a simple visit to Los Angeles. Of course, he should have known better by now, nothing in his life was ever simple.
But Rupert had promised Ami, and more specifically her friends, Adam and Megabyte, that he would do everything in his power possible to find a way to undo or reverse the soul-bond that the young Tomorrow Person now shared with a certain brooding vampire. It was a bizarre twist of fate that bond them together, a spell gone awry, despite whatever Whistler wanted them to believe about the bond. Rupert simply couldn't accept the fact that somehow this soul-bond was pre-ordained. While he certainly didn't profess to understand The Powers That Be or how they worked, he found it hard to believe that even they could be so callous as to find it necessary to bond a teenage child to a vampire. Particularly one such as Ami; The Tomorrow People seemed to be the hope for the future, light and purity. Angel represented darkness; even the vampire admitted that.
Flipping a page in the book, the former Watcher sipped thoughtfully on his tea. Tea relaxed him; coffee kept him alert and ready for action. He'd probably drank more than enough coffee while in Los Angeles that he would be feeling the effects of the caffeine for weeks to come.
The sound of a soft knocking, followed by the door slowly creaking inward hardly surprised him. Once upon a time, Buffy and her friends never came to his apartment. But that had been back when they were in high school, back when there was still a Sunnydale High School, before it had been razed to the ground by explosives in an effort to destroy a powerful demon.
On the positive side, the demon had been destroyed.
Another day's work on the Hellmouth.
"Giles, you're back." Buffy's surprised voice greeted him from the doorway. "When did you get back? And why didn’t you tell me you were back?"
Rupert raised his head to look at the petite blonde Slayer, his heart filling with affection for her despite her somewhat petulant and demanding tone. Although he was no longer her Watcher, no longer even employed by the Watcher's Council, the connection between them was strong. The young woman standing in the doorway, blue eyes demanding answers, produced in him a strong paternal instinct. She was the Chosen One, the one girl in all the world with the strength and power to stand against the vampires and demons, and yet he worried about protecting her. Not so much from the evil in the world, or whatever wretchedness the Hellmouth threw their way, but from the pain and sadness that life inevitably brought. As the Vampire Slayer, her life was destined to be a short, and violent, one. It seemed particularly heart-wrenching that it should also be riddled with the pain of adolescence and, never to be forgotten, her unrequited love for a cursed vampire.
"I only returned late last night, Buffy. I didn't wish to disturb you."
"You were gone a long time," she stepped into the apartment with an air of ownership, closing the door behind her. "The only message we got was from Cordelia and it didn't make a lot of sense." Buffy frowned, clearly struggling to recall the message, "Mostly I think she wanted to know what Willow and I were wearing to Homecoming?"
"Yes, how was Homecoming?" Rupert picked the simplest thread to distract the woman. It steered away from the topic that he didn't wish to discuss just yet.
"Fine," Buffy said cheerily. A little too cheerily, forcing a smile to her face, straightening her shoulders. Removing his glasses, he merely held them dangling from his hand by one arm, waiting for her to continue. "Well, as fine as it could be. When you're dateless. Or when you're hoping that the date that you want to date will notice that you're not there with a date at all. Only he doesn't. Because he's there with a date. On a date. And -- how was LA?"
Blinking in an effort to make sense of Buffy's rambling, Rupert took a moment before answering. He had to assume that she was talking about Parker Abrahms, a young man whom Willow had aptly named 'Poop-head,' after his slightly less than disreputable behavior towards Buffy. Unfortunately, Buffy still seemed to be hanging on to him, to the hope of a relationship with him, a fact which made no sense when she seemed capable at least of letting go of Angel despite her love for the vampire. Of course, that could have more to do with the fact that if Angel and Buffy ever allowed themselves to become intimate again -- ever -- Angel would lose his soul, leaving a blood-thirsty demon in his wake.
The memories of what happened the last time that happened made him shudder with rage and no small amount of fear.
"Los Angeles was fine."
"Just fine? You were gone five whole days." Buffy crossed the room and sat down on the sofa. As she did, her eyes flickered to the open books on the table. Her voice took a hopeful note, something that he always found a bit chilling when he considered the subject of her conversation. "Evil? Slay? Destroy? You weren't going to tell me?"
Rupert indicated the books with a wave of his hand. "These have nothing to do with the Hellmouth, at least not that I'm aware of. I'm doing some research for . . . for Angel." There he had said it, the dreaded name that always caused her face to fall and her to visibly break in half. Just as it was doing right now.
"Oh, Angel," Buffy lowered her head, twisting her hands in her lap, speaking softly. "So, how is Angel? I mean, he has to be good, right? Because you would have told me if he wasn't good. Right?"
"He's . . . fine." Rupert noted that his pause was too long, and he knew that Buffy would notice it as well, still he didn't feel comfortable lying to her. Particularly when the vampire's current 'condition' as it were seemed to defy description with a single word. "He's doing exactly what Oz said he was doing in LA."
"He's a detective?"
"Something of the sort."
"And Cordelia's his secretary?"
Rupert thought back to Cordelia Chase, and the ill-timed and inappropriate remarks and interjections, the patented pampered princess behavior, and how, in the end, when it mattered most, her passionate support of Angel, her compassion towards Adam and her sympathy towards Ami's plight. The girl had layers after all; it simply took a loss of all her family's wealth and social status and a move to Los Angeles to bring them forward.
He nodded, giving Buffy the simplest and least complex answer, "Of a sort."
"There's something you're not telling me," Buffy observed and indicated the books. "This is why you were gone so long, wasn't it?"
"There were some . . . loose ends that needed to be dealt with. I wanted to help in whatever capacity I could."
"You're not going to tell me, are you?"
Rupert drew a deep breath, and pinching the bridge of his nose between his thumb and forefinger, he exhaled slowly. This was the conversation he had been hoping to avoid. While he didn't think he could avoid it forever, he thought that he might be given a few weeks to figure out what precisely he was going to say.
Foolish fancy, that. As if Buffy Summers would ever let anything go that easily when it involved Angel.
The problem was, he didn't know what to tell her. What did he have a right to say and what did he not? There was no relationship between Buffy and Angel; there hadn't been since Graduation Day when the vampire walked into the darkness without a word. Only a single letter, arriving a month later, explained what he was doing and where he was. And that hadn't been mailed to Buffy. That had been mailed to Rupert merely as a pipeline for information should either party ever need it.
However, if there was no relationship, he could not deny that there was passion and love so strong that it made his own heart ache. Angel and Buffy were star-crossed lovers, a modern day Romeo and Juliet, and their union would remain forever unattainable except at the most devastating cost.
He remembered his conversation with the vampire, as he prepared to leave.
"What shall I tell Buffy?" He had stood in Angel's office, staring at the soul-cursed and now, soul-bound vampire across the desk.
Angel had toyed with a letter opener, spinning it idly on the desktop as though it were the most fascinating thing he had ever seen. "If she doesn't ask, don't tell her anything."
"You and I both know that won't be possible. She will ask, Angel. I've been away too long for her not to ask and worry."
"I should be the one to tell her," Angel commented softly, raising his eyes to meet Rupert's. Then he looked away, his voice heavy with sorrow, "But I can't see her. It would still . . . hurt too much . . . for both of us."
"I have to tell her something, Angel. And I can't tell her about this, not without your permission. The bond is yours, and whatever you might want to portray to everyone else on the other side of that office door, it is a personal and intimate thing."
Angel nodded, lifting his head again, but not to look at Giles. Rather he looked towards the window, but, Rupert knew, not out of it. Not in the literal sense. The way Angel's eyes and thoughts seemed to turn inwards for a moment told the man that the vampire was not so much 'looking' in a direction as he was 'sensing' the girl on the other side of his bond. Sensing her halfway across Los Angeles, in her campus dorm room. "You can't even begin to know how personal, Giles."
They had stood like that in silence for endless minutes, the only sounds the traffic on the streets beyond, the ticking of the clock and the occasional rise and fall of the sound of Cordelia's and Doyle's voices. When Giles prepared to speak, to pull the vampire back to this reality, Angel turned and looked at him, pain etched in his features. "If she asks, tell her the truth. Maybe it's better that way. Maybe she'll accept now that we can't . . . tell her I asked about her."
An odd statement, but the one that had haunted Rupert for his entire drive back to Sunnydale. It was the one that haunted him now as he sat on the sofa besides the young woman he would always think of as *his* Slayer.
And at that moment, he made his decision. It would not be his place to tell Buffy about the bond, that had to be done by Angel. She had to hear the words from his lips in order to accept them fully. With any luck, she would never need to hear them, because he would find the source to reverse the bond.
Besides, explaining the bond would mean explaining Ami, and knowing the Tomorrow People as he did, Rupert knew that they would not want their existence to be revealed. Not even to someone he knew that he could trust to take the secret to their grave; a grave which might not be too far off in her very violent future. But he had given Adam his word, and while he would break it to avoid lying to Buffy, he would keep it for as long as it could be kept without compromising the trust of the young woman sitting beside him.
"There were some complications with a spell that was cast," Rupert explained. It wasn't a lie, but neither was it the entire truth. "I am looking for a way to reverse it."
"But Angel . . . is okay?"
"Yes, he's perfectly . . . undead."
She nodded, accepting his words for the time being. "And if you can't . . . reverse it . . . you'll tell me . . . what you and Angel think you can't tell me?"
Rupert flinched at words. "Am I that transparent, Buffy?"
With a smile, she reached out and patted his hand. "You're good to me, Giles. You just want to protect me, and I can handle that. But just remember, that I've already been hurt by Angel. . . or because of him. I shoved a sword through his chest and sent him to hell. I watched him almost die because of Faith and the mayor. I accept that we can't . . . be together. Ever."
"If I could tell you, I would. You must believe that. But it's neither my place nor my right."
"I understand." She stared down at her lap for a minute, and then, with all the stoicism that he had come to expect from her, she looked up again, shaking off the moment. She pushed herself to her feet. "Well, I am going to let you get back to your research. Should I send Wicca girl your way?"
"No, I don't believe I'll be needing Willow's help."
"Good, because then I am going to go find my roomie and we are going to have chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream," Buffy marched to the door.
Rupert waited until her hand was on the knob, waited until she pulled the door inward before speaking again. "He wanted me to tell you . . . that he asked about you."
She trembled slightly, her entire frame shaking under the impact of his words. She took a deep breath, her shaky and grateful whisper reaching his ears. "Thanks, Giles."
Then she was gone, and he was alone. Alone with his thoughts, and alone with a million questions that didn't have answers.
With a resigned and determined sigh, Rupert Giles returned his attention to his books.
~ End ~