Fic by Author Era Pairing Rating Title
Title: Not What You Might Think: Music, Sadly
Pairing: Angel + Giles, mention of Angelus/Giles, Angel/Giles
Set immediately post-"Chosen" and Ats S4 season finale.
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From Sonnet #8:
Giles does not like the Hyperion. Given his choice, he would not have come here after the fall of Sunnydale. The place swarms with frantic, probably underpaid worker bees moving things to and fro.
Too much noise, too much confusion it is as a discordant crashing of chords, and it jars his ears.
They all seem to belong to a major law firm where Angel will apparently soon be moving the base of his operations. Exquisitely appointed living quarters are to go with this. He's seen a picture, thrust at him by an over-eager gofer, of where Angel will live.
He'd shoved it back with a vehemence the man did not expect.
He does not expect life to be fair. He would rather, however, not have his nose rubbed in it.
To come straggling in with a load of grimy refugees only to find barristers everywhere, sneering at their dirty clothes and straggled hair after all they have been through that day alone! it is not right. For what did they fight? A world in which this sort of injustice is allowed free continuance?
Oh, Angel is gracious enough, if rushed. He permits the lot of them into his hotel and lets them choose whatever rooms they like. Even sees to ordering food nutritious, sumptuous meals, clearly expensive and sends a legal lackey hotfooting out for fresh sheets and a change of clothes for all. It's charitable, his treatment of them, and attentive to detail.
Giles loathes it.
They have broken burnt bread with death today, and now he tastes the ashes. They are bitter on his tongue and make his stomach twist.
Does anyone else feel as he does? He's not sure.
The children well, he still thinks of them as children, though they have long since grown up in mind and body are too tired for talking, even if he were so inclined. Though saving the world has grown near commonplace for them the strain of the day's events would drain any mortal being.
Willow and Kennedy are long in bed, if not asleep. Xander has put down his shot glass of Irish whiskey, nursed on since arriving, to retire upstairs wan and quiet. Followed, it's worth noting - after a few stumbling explanations that are really no help - by Andrew. Poor, foolish child. He and Xander wear their hearts too plainly upon their sleeves.
Giles is aware there's a slim possibility the two boys will make a match of it, but is bitterly hoping against hope that Andrew will have sense enough to allow time for the pain of Anya's death to fade.
He cannot think, now, of Anya. There is a numb spot in his heart where she belonged, as one of his adopted brood. Not so large as the one Buffy left during her death, but there nonetheless. A place within him, now forever devoid of life. Another piece of his being, gone missing.
Of course, he's revealed none of these thoughts to the younger folk. It would be inappropriate in the face of their own pain. He sees them all off to bed with a pat to the shoulder or a hug, as appropriate; he smiles and lies, lingers in the lobby to wish them all a good night. He devoutly hopes they sleep warmly and well. They have earned it.
He stands as the last of them, his Slayer, approaches. His warmest embrace would go to her, but she flits in and out of his arms light as a butterfly with a quick kiss to his cheek. Demonstrative behavior for the two of them, to be sure, but he knows that she has not yet completely forgiven him for his behavior over Spike. Nor, now that he is dead, will she ever.
Another small bit of Giles goes numb.
When Buffy is gone he remains, alone. The cheese stands alone, he thinks to himself with a slightly hysterical chuckle. That wild dreaming of the First Slayer; he's never forgotten it and never will. The others boggled over that bit of the nightmare-scape, but he understood. They are all alone, always alone. Especially he. Whether parted by the action of his own hand, or dropped by others, he has become bereft.
Perversely, the lobby of the Hyperion is now far too quiet. It makes his ears ring. Threatens him, pushing in on his soul. He's grown used to chaos. Peace is foreign and frightening.
A sudden strain of music runs through his mind a Dead March. The solemn strains bring sour acid up in his throat. No more. Dear lord, no more!
Suddenly desperate, he makes for the main door. Wrenching it open, he breathes in deeply and wallows in the fetid tang of LA air, of rushing cars and cursing drivers.
Better... it is better.
There's no breathing to alert him to the silent presence that approaches from behind, and he is too lost in his own bleak thoughts to notice the heavy/quiet panther treading on worn carpets. He simply knows, after a time, that he is no longer alone.
And he would be alarmed, if he were not so tired. He knows a non-breathing creature at his back could be one of so many things. A ghoul; a boggart; a zombie? No - a ghost. A dead thing. Or perhaps the First, come back to mock him. Did he really have the gall to think that the destruction of some Turok-Han would be enough to stop a being older, more powerful and evil than can be measured?
When Angel clears his throat and Giles recognizes the unique pitch, he almost bursts into laughter. Only a vampire. Then he does laugh, loud and startling, at the thought - only a vampire!
Angel hesitates, clearly wondering if he has a madman on his hands. "Rupert?"
Giles waves him off, struggling for control. The crazed giggles want to escape like bubbles in champagne.
He hears the vampire shifting his weight from right to left. "Are you all right?" he offers lamely.
"Quite perfect!" Giles wipes tears from his eyes. A last fit of chuckles escapes. "Never better."
"Oh. I'm glad."
Angel, do try not to be a fool, he thinks bitterly and without hope.
He hears a deep, unneeded breath of air taken in and sighed out. "Sure
Then, unexpected and most unwanted! a huge, cool hand descends on his shoulder. He's stiff from the shock when the hand awkwardly begins to pat.
Dear lord! What a despicable feeling. Attempts at comfort, from a creature he despises so? It makes him despair of any benevolent deities remaining. To have come to this. Rupert, you truly have hit bottom now.
"I know," Angel says quietly. The hand's a little surer now, as if remembering how to do this. Perhaps he has done it for some of his own troupe of humans. Likely not. Angel is not one for casual touching.
Angelus, however he gloried in it, knew just how to use it. He was dark and swollen with understanding the art of personal contact, how even unliving flesh could exact just the reaction he wanted.
Giles goes cold at that thought, repressed for so long. No. He will not recall it. Not now; it's not the time.
Angel misinterprets his silence for grief, and continues patting, now alternating with gentle rubs to the tense shoulder muscle. Stop that! Giles wants to yell. His throat is frozen. Awaiting the bite?
"I know you don't think I can, but I understand," Angel says. His voice is heavy. Giles is used to that. Doesn't the vampire carry the guilt of thousands, as rightly he should?
Understand? Giles snorts. The vampire cannot hope to comprehend his emotional state. He never could.
Angel says nothing to that. He sighs again. Continues to stroke Giles' shoulder, as if hoping that the gesture will convey all his meaning.
Giles shivers and draws in on himself. Lost... so much is lost. He can hear the discordant music in his head again and feels so very lonely.
He cannot help it.
Angel's hand changes direction, kneading into the shoulder blade. "Don't," he repeats.
This hand on his back is so familiar that is hurts. Oh, yes, it hurts.
Memories unbidden hurtle back to assault him. When Angelus made Sunnydale his own, he went after those Buffy loved best - the better to hurt her. Beyond the tragedy with Jenny, they thought he had not been marked by the monster.
But oh, he had.
The library, late one night. He had stayed unwisely over-late, re-shelving books in his private collection, in the book cage. So lost in musing over which compendiums should remain open for research that he did not, as ever, hear the vampire steal up behind him until the bars slammed shut and he was trapped inside.
The cool presence had pressed itself to him, molding to the curve of his back. Cold and merciless arms pinned him fast.
He had stroked Giles then, as well. But not on the shoulder. Cruel, too-strong hands rubbed at the front of his vest and pinched the nipples beneath. Giles' breath, loud in the all-encompassing silence, condemned him. How Angelus knew, he could not be certain, but it had been years since any woman... or any man... had touched him so.
"I knew it," Angelus had whispered in his ear. "I know you. I know all about Ripper and his little orgies." The hand darted lower, teasing just about his suddenly, perversely aching groin. "I know what you used to summon up just for fun. Who you used to have for fun. That chaos wizard. Deirdre. Whoever you could bang, just for the hell of it."
He pulled Giles closer still, pressed his erection against the back of Giles' neat trousers. "Ever been done by a vampire, Rupert? Bet you have. You know what it's like. No pulse, no panting for breath. Just strength. Taking you over. Splitting you open from the inside."
He rocked them hard against each other. "And you want it again. Don't you?" Angel's mouth drifted over his neck. Sharp teeth prickled at the vein. "Come on, Rupert, say it. You want this."
He said "yes" to save his life, but the hell of it was he had wanted it.
Oh, but Angelus was calculating in his cruelness. He knew how slowly Giles' fumbling courting of Jenny progressed, knew of the fights and bitter words between them. How Giles could perhaps forgive, but never forget the danger she had permitted them to plunge headlong into.
How bereft, how set adrift he truly was.
How, suddenly, he understood Buffy a little better.
His trousers had hit the floor with a loud crack, the sound of death. There was no gentleness, only rapaciousness and all-consuming heat/cold, devouring him body and soul.
When it was over, he was left in a heap on the floor of his own sanctuary. Angelus laughed once, prodded Giles with his toe and pronounced the night fine entertainment. How he got out, Giles never knew, but suddenly he was gone. Humiliated. Left alone as ever.
And so soon afterwards Jenny died no, was murdered. That was Angelus' own special icing on the cake. Just when he thought himself free, up arose the shadow of that night, mocking him: you can't have anyone else, Rupert. You belong to me. Don't forget it.
In the here and now, he wonders if Angel even remembers that night.
The music in his mind changes to the small, sad plucking of two lute strings, threatening to dwindle away into darkness.
He does not realize that he's weeping until Angel stops his rubbing and offers a handkerchief over his shoulder. It's black, finest linen, and discreetly monogrammed of course. Giles takes a cruel pleasure in mopping up the salt on his face and even wiping his nose on the small work of art. Childish, but he is tired of playing "old and wise".
If Angel minds, he doesn't say. He simply remains, large hand splayed out and still on Giles' back. Giles starts to shove the kerchief into his pocket, changed his mind, and lets it drop to the floor.
"If there was anything I could do " Angel starts.
Giles cuts him off. "There is not. Don't lower yourself to ask."
"But you're in pain."
"As are we all." Giles tries to shrug away from that lingering hand. "Go and tend to them if you must play nursemaid. Buffy, for example. I'm certain she'd be more than delighted to have you visiting "
"Buffy and I already said goodnight." Angel is quiet for a moment. "We pretty much said all we needed to say, actually."
The strings pluck two notes in Giles' mind: oh, really? There's an interesting tidbit. He had fully expected his heart-divided Slayer to fall into Angel's arms. Then again if she had, no doubt Angel would be with her. Well.
He finds himself wondering exactly what words were exchanged. Perhaps that was part of the reason for the distance she exuded as she bid him good night? She has a particularly destructive talent for repressing what should be expressed, and vice versa, then taking it out on others.
He believes she may must have learned that from him.
So Angel, too, is alone tonight.
The vampire's hand twitches just a little bit. Did he read Giles' thoughts just then? Or were they plainly written on his face in lines of surprise, disgust and may God forgive him interest.
Slowly, Angel's fingers move again. He trails down the middle of Giles' back, then up again, as if counting each vertebrae. When he reaches throat, he strokes with the back of his hand, ever so gently. It's a sensual touch, a would-be lover's caress. There can be no mistaking it.
Giles swallows hard. "No."
"I'm only trying to comfort you."
"Do you think such a thing would ease my pain?" Giles barks a laugh utterly without humor. "Getting buggered by such a one as you? Hardly."
"It might." Angel draws a little closer, barely brushing his chest against the Watcher's back.
"What of your vaunted soul? Were I so mad as to agree, what of that? Would you lose it just to take the body of an old man who's far past his prime?"
"I'm older by a couple hundred years," Angel points out mildy. Stroke, stroke go the fingers, tickling down to his collarbone. "We're both alone. Lonely."
"Which is the perfect reason to lose all sense and go at it like a pair of ducky old queens." Giles jerks away from Angel's touch. "Leave off. I'll none of this."
Angel leans forward to whisper in his ear. "My soul's safe."
"And you are certain of this, how?"
"Because." Angel leans his cheek against Giles' temple. "It wouldn't be perfect happiness. We've both seen too much."
Giles closes his eyes and shudders. He can't bear this. "No." His voice breaks. "No, Angel, a thousand times no."
The vampire sounds empty as he. Giles' mind races with the thoughts of touching, plundering, of cool hands sliding down his body, taking him roughly on, removing him from himself...
He wants. He wants so badly that it burns him.
So he pulls away again and puts a foot of uncrossable distance between them. "No."
Firmer. More certain. Good.
"I only wanted to help," Angel says quietly.
"You haven't. Thank you kindly for your courtesy, but it's not wanted. Do go away now. Cozen up to Wesley if you're so desperate for company."
That's a low blow, but it works. Angel hesitates, then nods and turns away. "Sleep well, Rupert."
Giles says nothing. Listens to Angel walking away. Realizes that when he is not trying to be subtle, the vampire is quite loud in his movements. Awkward. Embarrassed?
He crosses his arms over his chest and hugs himself. Outside, the night is loud and foul. In the lobby, there is deepest silence and regret.
And he is alone.
He tastes the bitter ashes fresh anew. And he hears the Dead March begin again, banging loudly behind his eyes.
For those interested...
Sonnet # 8
Music to hear, why hear'st thou music sadly?
Sweets with sweets war not, joy delights in joy:
Why lov'st thou that which thou receiv'st not gladly,
Or else receiv'st with pleasure thine annoy?
If the true concord of well-tuned sounds,
By unions married, do offend thine ear,
They do but sweetly chide thee, who confounds
In singleness the parts that thou shouldst bear.
Mark how one string, sweet husband to another,
Strikes each in each by mutual ordering;
Resembling sire and child and happy mother,
Who, all in one, one pleasing note do sing:
Whose speechless song being many, seeming one,
Sings this to thee: 'Thou single wilt prove none.'