Parts 12 and 13, the end.
Natalie found herself smiling as she reflected on her lunch. Well, more like dinner for people who worked during the day, but lunch for people working the night shift like she did. Rupert Giles was definitely charming, and surprisingly decent and sweet. Not at all what she would have expected from the descriptions of these Watchers. But he was a good man. And she just might be developing feelings for him, the sort that could grow into quite a lot.
She just might end up in a relationship with him. The idea felt odd to her. She'd had that extremely frustrating sort of relationship with Nick for so long, gone through so much with him, and that had crumbled. She wasn't certain if she was ready to try dating again, but... Something told her that she might find out if he stayed. Not that she thought that he'd be pushy about it, but... He had an appeal to him.
Rupert Giles would never be Nick, and could never fit into quite the same place in her heart that Nick had filled. But... that didn't mean that she might not be able to care about Rupert as well as Nick. Especially as it seemed that Nick would be in her past, not her present or future. If Rupert was going to be in her life in the near future, did that mean that he might be in her heart as well? She had to admit that the possibility was there. If he stayed, she might get attached. But did that mean that he would care? Was she even the sort of woman that would appeal to him?
"Tracy's doing a lot better now." Vachon's voice came from the darkness of the morgue, causing her to jump in surprise.
"Don't do that!" Natalie tried to calm herself down, wondering just what it was about vampires scaring people all the time.
Vachon chuckled, flipping the lights on for her. "Sorry." He didn't sound particularly apologetic. "I wanted to share the good news. Tracy woke up today."
"Really?" She could feel excitement and hope bubbling up inside, and she smiled, impulsively hugging Vachon. "That's wonderful!"
"Yes, really. I wouldn't joke about that. But she was awake, and I got to speak with her for a few moments. She fell asleep after that, but it was a real sleep, not passing out again. She was trying to figure out how she'd got to the hospital." Vachon was smiling, but it was obvious that he was also a bit worried.
"Actually, it makes sense that she might be a bit confused. Wasn't she out when they originally took her to the hospital? So, the last thing that she would remember would be either right before or as things blew up. Hopefully, that's all of it. She should clear up in a few days." Nat could feel the delight at his news. Tracy was getting better.
Vachon gave a small nod, his eyes filled with thoughts and questions. "I hadn't considered that. But it's a good point. So... how did your day go?"
She found herself blushing. "I... had lunch with Rupert. He seems very nice, and he might be staying in Toronto for a while."
He just chuckled in this almost smug manner. "Staying, hmmm? We'll have to see how that works out. I'll leave you to your patients, and go be annoyingly happy elsewhere. Urs and Screed have been worried about her, and they should hear that she's doing better."
"Tell Screed hi for me, alright?" She smiled a bit, thinking of the unexpectedly likable Carouche vampire. Screed and his diet of rats... it sounded vile to her, but if he was content on it, and didn't feel the need to seek human blood, what could she do? It wasn't as if she'd been able to get anywhere with Nick and his search for humanity anyhow.
"Absolutely." And with a slight whooshing, as if a sudden gust of wind had filled the hall, he was gone.
Nat shook her head, considering the many times that Nick had made similar exits. "They must get a flair for the dramatic along with the fangs."
But it was as if everything was looking better right now. Tracy was getting better, LaCroix was behaving, and there was Rupert Giles... Yes, the future was looking better all the time.
end part 12.
Rupert Giles looked around his hotel room, attempting to see if there was any reason why he might not stay in Toronto for a while. The Council could go soak their collective heads, his family... well, Toronto was as good or bad as Sunnydale to them, and Willow had assured him that they would be alright. Maybe he should call and check on the children anyhow...
It wasn't until he was actually dialing he number that he realized that he was happy in Toronto, and really was hoping that he could stay. When was the last time he'd felt happy about where he was?
Willow sounded a bit breathless when she answered the telephone, as if she'd just gotten there in time. She asked how the food and the weather were, and if he'd been safe from any of the potential real crime that might occur in a big city. He'd chuckled at that, assuring her that the only crime he'd been subjected to was terrible transportation and this one dreadful restaurant.
He'd started going through the list of names, telling Willow what he'd found, explaining the situations and his analysis of them of the names on his list. It wasn't until the end when her voice gently prompted him about Natalie and Tracy that he realized he hadn't included them. Which prompted the complicated explanations about those two women, leaving Willow snickering over the whole Vampire-Slayer thing.
Then, she'd made a soft comment that had surprised him with its accuracy. 'You really don't want to come back, do you?' He'd stammered a bit, spoken reassurances that he still worried about them, still wanted them to be safe... But Willow had surprised him again with her next comment, spoken in a slightly teasing tone. 'It's Natalie, isn't it? You like her and want to stay in hopes of getting to know her better, personally, not professionally.' He'd found himself conceeding her point.
Perhaps he shouldn't have been so surprised that she'd noticed. Or that all she'd done was offer a small, sad chuckle and the words that 'it was okay to want to be happy for a while. If you think that maybe you can find a bit of happiness in Toronto, stay for a while. Just don't forget to keep in touch.' In essence, she'd given him her blessing to stay here, to try to be Rupert Giles, not Giles the Watcher.
He was feeling much better as he hung up the phone. Toronto wasn't a perfect city, and things here might not be perfect, especially not if that ancient vampire continued an interest, but... But there was a lot of potential here. It was a vibrantly alive city, a place that wasn't slowly drowning in evil, wasn't slowly shrinking and dying from a plague of demons. A place that wasn't as caught by tradition and 'it's always been done that way' as London, but with a sense of history and pride in the past. And yes, Natalie was here as well.
He wasn't certain what would happen between them, but he couldn't deny that she captured his interest. She was lovely, intelligent, and aware that humans were not the only things here, aware that there was real evil. But more than that, she was a vibrant and captivating woman. He wanted to stay, to see if maybe something might develop between them, if there was a chance, the potential for a relationship. But he would never know unless he stayed.
Of course, he would need to find somewhere else to live, a flat or possibly a small house. He certainly didn't think that he could stay here forever at the Council's expense... and he would need a job. Bother, he'd almost managed to forget all the things that went into moving to a different city. But he thought that it would be worth it.
It was time to begin looking for a new home. Fortunate that the Cuuncil would continue to pay for this hotel room until he found one. That eased the urgency of the situation, but he didn't want to depend on the fickle generosity of the Council. He wanted to build his own new life. And if somehow, Natalie Lambert became a part of that new life... Well, that could only make things a bit better.
Time to go check on Miss Vetter. He wanted to see how she was healing, if the spell had truly helped her. Besides, he was curious about her. What sort of person was she? He knew about her job, knew about her medical history, but that could only tell you so much about a person. Perhaps it would be good to meet Tracy Vetter the person, instead of the medical file of Vetter, Tracy L.
Walking through the halls of the hospital, he sighed yet again. It was far to easy too put on the right clothing and just walk into the hospital. What if he was a violent man? What if someone was after one of the patients? But there wasn't anything that he could do about it. He made his way to Tracy's room, slipping inside.
"Are you another doctor?" Her voice was a bit hoarse, but alert.
He smiled, delighted with the improvement in her condition. "Not precisely. My name is Rupert Giles, and I just wanted to check on you. Natalie and Vachon have been very worried about your recovery."
"You know Vachon?" Her voice held a bit of puzzlement. "But you aren't... I don't know you.
"We are recent acquaintances. He's been very worried about you, actually. How do you feel?" Rupert smiled just a bit.
"Today is not my best day. My back hurts, my head feels fuzzy inside, and there's this funny buzzing feeling... But I think I'm getting better." She made a small smile. "One of the nurses... if I'd been hit just an inch more to the right, I'd be paralyzed."
The door opened, revealing Vachon with a bouquet of blue flowers in his hand. He smiled when he looked at Tracy. "Hey there, Tracy. Glad to see you looking better."
"Vachon..." Tracy smiled, obviously happy about more than the flowers. "I was hoping to see you."
Giles chuckled a bit, watching the pair smile at each other like a couple of love-struck teenagers. "I think that you will be just fine, Miss Vetter. Regardless of what anyone else has to say about the injuries."
Sometimes, a good deed was it's own reward after all. They looked so happy... Let them enjoy that happiness while they could. And maybe, just maybe, there might be some happiness in his own future. Images of hazel eyes and honey colored hair swirled through his mind, and this time, he didn't push them away.