Between The Lines
story starts the day after Dark Star’s ‘Devil’s Hill’. Now that Buffy and Angel are a couple, can
Angel and Giles overcome their past?
Will Angelus reappear? And can
you have a story that has sex, Angel in chains and Angel ripping Ella’s
trousers off, and still rate it a 15?
Between The Lines
down at her sleeping lover, and wondered why his brow was knotted in a slight
frown. She’d never really had much
opportunity to study him like this, and she’d expected that he might be relaxed
in sleep. As still as death,
perhaps. He certainly wasn’t relaxed at
the moment, although he was completely motionless. No rise and fall of his chest, no sound of breathing, no slight
movements of any sort. It should have
been unnerving, lying next to one who was as still as a corpse, but somehow, it
wasn’t. It was… restful. Peaceful.
And then she thought that she had no right to assume that he might sleep
easily. If there was one person in the
world who might have nightmares, it was him.
Angel. Her once and future lover. Well, he certainly had been her lover once,
and only the once, in the fullest sense of the word, but now they had every hope
that he might be again in the future.
It just hadn’t happened now.
There’d been no present tense.
Or maybe there’d been too much tense; perhaps that was the problem.
she’d made the decision to move in with Angel, and she was glad of that. She hadn’t done it simply because she’d
found out that the Coven had brought him back without the happiness
clause. She had done it because she
wanted it. She needed it, and so
did he. A bird needs air to fly, and
they needed each other if they were ever to get out of the dust. If the two of them were ever to find any
peace and happiness in the battlegrounds of their lives, they could only do
that in each other, and that was true now, more than it had ever been. Now, they could have each other, in every
sense of the word; but not, it seemed, yet.
Angel had been
incredulous when she told him. She’d
been too angry with everything outside this room to do more than simply blurt
out an account of her visit to the witch, Gladys, and her subsequent confrontation
with Giles. Then, his incredulity had
become something much more complicated.
Those complicated feelings had been shoved out of her sight almost as
quickly as they had revealed themselves, but she sensed that there had been
anger there, matching her own. Why
had he not been told? Why had he
been left without the comfort he could only find in her, whilst in the claws of
his own misery and loss?
emotions she thought she’d seen on his face were ones that were much less
familiar. Chief amongst those was hope.
to each other amidst these revelations that had tilted their hitherto
uncomfortable world askew, revelations that had allowed the shapes of futures
to click into different positions, like the tiles on some godly management
toy. ‘Decide to say yes’. ‘Ask how many worlds must be annihilated to
fund it’. ‘Buffy and Angel are Go’.
though, their first night together under the new rules, might just as well have
been a night under the old rules. She
thought that Angel might now have hope, but what he hadn’t yet found was
belief. She thought that perhaps
she hadn’t yet found belief, either.
Then, too, there was Giles and a house full of slayers only a few yards
away. It would have been like trying to
make love with your parents in the next room.
And so, they had held on to each other, getting used to the feel of
flesh on flesh again, reopening memories of what they had done in the innocent
springtime of their relationship, memories imprinted into nerves and muscle and
skin, but no more. It didn’t matter –
or not very much. The rest would come
later. With belief.
Just as she
was about to ring the doorbell, Angel put his hand on her arm to stop her. She looked at him, questioning, but his
smile told her everything she needed to know.
She put her face up, and received her reward, a kiss that was long and
satisfying. He pulled her tight, as if
he meant to make of them one being in one skin. They would be more demure around Giles, wouldn’t rub his nose in
the fact that they were a couple, and so they needed this last piece of each
parted, he rested his forehead against hers, and then pulled back a little,
that same smile on his face. It was one
she’d rarely seen since those first heady months, but which graced his features
rather more readily now. It spoke of
happiness. Happiness tinged with
something else, but happiness nonetheless.
Neither of them saw the figure at the breakfast room window, wearing a
smile all of her own.
eventually rang the bell, it was Ella who opened the door to them.
“Yes – the
girls are out for the night. Part of
this ‘let’s get a life’. They’ve gone
to the cinema.”
Ella looked at
Buffy’s incredulous expression.
“Oh, John and
Martha are with them, chauffeuring a couple of hired people carriers, and
incidentally making sure we get them all back.
So, don’t worry, Giles hasn’t run mad.
He’s in the study with some musty old books he picked up today.”
old…!” Buffy smacked herself on the
forehead. “I’ve left that statuette in
“I’ll get it…”
Angel, shan’t be a sec…”
As Buffy ran
back to the car, Angel started to shed his coat. As he did so, they walked down the hall from the courtyard
entrance to the open study door. Giles
had a huge book on his knee, and was just opening it. He turned to greet them, with a boyish grin on his face – one
that he got with every mysterious and new book or artefact that came his
way. The book fell open, showing
nothing but blank pages, and then everything seemed to Angel to happen in slow
motion. Ella was pulled into the study,
and seemed to shimmer momentarily into a glassy, insubstantial figure. He felt Buffy behind him, as his entire
being seemed to be pulled out of the here and now, and towards something other. Only vampire reflexes allowed him to throw
his arm backwards, catching Buffy under the ribs and tossing her down the hall,
away from the danger, the package she had in her hand crashing against the
dining room wall.
screamed, but there was no time for more.
Everything went dark.
several seconds for Buffy to get back to her feet. She couldn’t ever remember Angel hitting her so hard, even when
he’d been… No. Not even then. The pain
of that blow overrode memory for an instant.
“Angel! What the…”
finish. She stood in the study doorway,
looking at Giles. He was sitting in his
battered green leather chair, a huge, closed, book on his knee. When he raised his head to look at her, she
could see that his face was ashen, the face of a man in shock. There was no one else in the room.
reply. She crossed the room to stand in
front of him.
“Angel. Where’s Angel?”
She got hold
of his lapels and shook him.
“Giles! Where’s Angel? Where’s Ella? GILES…?”
His voice was
a shadow of a whisper, and she had to strain to hear.
He started to
open the book, and memory forced its way past her fear.
the book closed against his fingers, remembering that tugging at the centre of
her being. Whatever it was from, Angel
had saved her. As usual, he hadn’t
managed to save himself.
Giles. It almost had me, too.”
He looked up,
and the look on his face was only too familiar to her. It was the lost look he’d had when he’d
found Jenny dead, and before he’d found thoughts of vengeance. She let him go, and ran her hands briefly
over her face.
been back together for three days, and you’ve got him locked in a book,
already! It just isn’t fair!”
Focus. She must focus. All too readily, she remembered the Moloch Book. It seemed like a lifetime ago, but that
dreadful robot that was the only body left to Moloch almost stood in the room
with them. It occurred to her that she
might think better if she didn’t have to keep concentrating on making her legs
function, so she flopped down into one of the other chairs.
of the book, Giles. I want Angel back. All of him.
Not one single piece missing or altered. And you want Ella. So,
how are we going to do it?
It seemed that
he was spinning forever, but forever is, of course, a relative term. Eventually, he was spewed out of whatever had
him, landing hard on the dusty ground.
He didn’t need to see or feel to know that he was showing the
vampire. He did, however, need to feel
to see just how much of the vampire he was showing, shrugging the half shed
coat back on in order to free his hands.
As he fingered the ridges and planes of his other face (your true
face, a voice whispered) it was a relief to find that it was no more than he
showed at home. He’d remembered Pylea,
but it wasn’t as bad as that. He hoped. At least he was himself inside, his usual
conflicted, psychic-baggage-ridden self, admittedly, but nothing worse.
himself up and saw what had thrown him here.
It looked a little like a tornado, a vortex of sorts, but it was a
vortex of colour and light. And then it
was gone. A tiny remnant remained,
though, high in the heavens, like an extremely compact rainbow. On the other side of where it had been, Ella
He ran across
to her, but as he reached her she curled into a ball with her back to him. He saw a flash of something that might have
been her hand, as she tucked it in, and it looked… odd. He put his own hand on her shoulder, and she
flinched. He wasn’t at all surprised,
looking at the hand. It wasn’t very
different. It never was: just different
enough. It was the hand of a vampire,
not a man. He gritted his teeth.
Please, don’t be afraid. It’s
just me. I… I can’t seem to change
back. I won’t hurt you. Please.
We’ve got to get out of here, and I’m not sure I can do it alone.”
Ella curled a
little tighter, and then a sigh seemed to escape her. A sigh of resignation, he thought. She straightened a little, and then turned towards him. It was Ella, and yet it wasn’t. Her face was more triangular, sharper boned,
her eyes larger, more almond shaped, still startling green, though, and her
skin had a slight bluish-grey cast. Her
hand was longer, even more slender. So
was the rest of her. It hadn’t been so
very long since he had seen a more extreme form of those features.
This time she
generations ago, on my mother’s side.
All witches have faerie blood, somewhere.”
him enough to ask a question, despite their current predicament.
brought the book over to the garage flat.
He was going to open it, and he didn’t trust it in the same building as
Buffy. She’d been safe, thrown by Angel
to the end of the hallway, but he was going to take no chances. Like Buffy, he, too, remembered the Moloch
Book. The demon could be retrieved by
reading the pages of the book. He
prayed that this one worked in the same way.
He tugged an
armchair round to face the window, the heavy drapes tucked back against the
wall. Buffy stood in the upper hallway
window immediately across the courtyard, framed in the light. At the least sign of distress from her, he
would close the book.
Close it as he
had closed it before, but too slowly that time. Much, much too slowly. As
if time had been parsed into its tiniest shards, and each shard had become a
separate, living thing; as if his limbs had been weighted with lead and,
chained with stupor and shock, he had watched those shards fly past him, unable
to stop them. Unable to determine
whether the shards were time or space, or his beloved Ella, disappearing onto
the pages of the book, followed by the shards of the vampire. And only then had he managed to close the
He sat in the
chair and turned the massive volume until it was straight on his knees, the
aged red morocco leather still supple under his palms. There were some slight signs of charring on
the spine, as if the book had been rescued from a fire. The front cover was tooled in silver,
carrying a design of silver stars. It
was the constellation of Orion, stretching to all four corners of the
book. A single word of four letters was
impressed in silver onto the cover, just where Orion’s chest would be. He couldn’t read the alphabet in which that
word was written, and yet it seemed familiar, as if he should know it.
A pad of paper
and a pen lay on the arm of the chair.
If he couldn’t read the pages straight off, he would copy the symbols,
so that they could find them, translate them, without needing to open the book
again and endanger anyone else. He took
a deep breath, and turned back the front cover, his eyes riveted on Buffy, not
the book. She was still at the window,
The first page
carried nothing but the word from the cover, four arcane letters. Carefully, he turned that back, to find a
blank page. Once more, he looked over
the courtyard, as he opened the next page.
Still, Buffy stood in the light.
page was blank, until he had opened about half of them. Then, there was writing on both pages,
instantly recognisable as the alphabet in which the title was written. He glanced back at the window. Still safe.
When he looked back at the book, the writing had faded, was still
fading, and then had gone. There was
nothing but virgin paper, no sign that ink, or any other organic fluid, had
ever touched it. All the other pages
were the same.
He’d no idea
where they were. It was dark, and
without moon or stars, yet he could still see well. Demonic night vision was useful at times, after all. The horizon seemed… odd, but he’d need a
little more light to check out why that was.
The land around was rocky and dry, covered in dust. Further away, there was sparse, scrubby
vegetation, but nothing here. Nothing
within a large, scoured circle except rock and dust. He looked up and understood why.
“Ella, we need
to move away from here. If that vortex
He left the
words hanging, but she could see what he meant. It might kill them if they weren’t already dead. He held out his hand to her, to help her
from the ground. She made no effort to
take it, just looked at it for a long moment.
Embarrassed, he pulled his hand back and stuck it into his coat
pocket. He was a demon, damn it, and he
was showing it. Why would she want to
take a vampire’s hand?
Ella looked up
at him, seeing the vulnerability written across even his demonic features. She’d been surprised that he would want to
take her hand when she knew what she must look like, and now she had wounded
him. She got to her feet, a little
unsteadily, and tucked her hand into his arm.
His smile was
relieved. Together, they moved back to
the thicker, undamaged scrub.
He looked back
up to the small, misshapen rainbow, and his voice was uncertain.
“I think we
need to get back up there. I think
that’s where we came in, and I really hope the door opens both ways. You’re a witch. Think you can do some magic?”
Indeed she was
a witch, but as she felt down within herself, witchiness seemed to be
conspicuous by its absence. Everything
else seemed to be in place and functioning, including a huge quotient of
unalloyed terror, but of witchiness and magic, nothing. She tried a small spell, one that all
beginners could manage if they had any power at all. She saw a small flower bud on the nearest shrub, and she asked it
to open. Nothing.
She called on
the spirit of place, opened herself to the power of the earth on which she was
standing, the air that she was breathing, the life that must be all around
her. Nothing. Oh. Dear.
Angel… Maybe we need to be a bit
further away from the vortex. It’s just
that… I, I don’t seem to have any magic just at the moment.”
was startled, to say the least, but obediently he led her away to find some
more favourable ground. She hoped.
The study was
littered with open books, and ancient texts were strewn over every available
flat surface. Currently, Giles was
clambering over the stacked possessions in his bedroom, searching out more
arcane materials that he hadn’t expected to need. Buffy heaved another outsized volume from the shelves and sat
back down to read. Focus. She must focus. But, all the while, she kept thinking that they never seemed to
be granted any time. Whenever
they made peace with each other, whenever they managed to just be, the
universe seemed to crumble around them.
It was so unfair. She’d lost him
too often, though. Not this time, not
if she could help it. So far, they’d
found nothing. Nothing about books
whose writing disappeared as you looked at it, and nothing about the strange
script on the cover of the book.
And then she
heard Giles give a shout from the rooms above, and heard him hasten down the
girls are back. I’ve just seen the
headlights coming up the drive.”
who could be put in danger by this wretched book. As he entered the room, she saw that he had a leather belt in one
hand. Swiftly, he wrapped the belt
around the book, and buckled it tight.
“A bit… ah,
belt and braces…” his smile was tight, grim, “…but it will at least stop it
falling open accidentally.”
and then the courtyard door opened, and the house was repossessed by the gaggle
of slayerhood. There was a lot of
chatter, and raised voices, but none of it sounded like excitement or
merriment. Any description would have
to include the word ‘serious’. Buffy
and Giles exchanged glances, and then headed into the hall to find out what
else had gone wrong.
Martha were shepherding their charges back in, and few of them seemed
unharmed. Most had blood evident
somewhere around their person, although none seemed seriously injured. Nothing that being a slayer couldn’t handle. Buffy could have screamed with frustration
at the distraction, and looking at Giles, it seemed clear that he felt the same
way. This had to be dealt with, though.
The girls had
gathered in the kitchen, which doubled as a first aid room when necessary, and
were lolling around on every available surface, as Martha ran hot water and got
out the first aid box.
was smooth, controlled, and Buffy wondered how he was managing to do that. It was John who answered.
There was an invasion of… something.
Some things. I don’t know
His soft West
Country burr was roughened with worry.
Half a dozen of the girls started talking at once, but Giles quietened
them. Elaine, who had become something
of a leader amongst them, took up the story.
“We were just
watching the film – the cinema was packed – when something brushed past my
foot. I thought at first it was a rat,
but when I looked down, it was a tentacle.
It might be different up in Yorkshire, of course, but we don’t tend to
get things with tentacles in cinemas.
Big tentacles, at that. Rats,
I’ll grant you, but tentacles, no. Then
it got hold of Sadie. We had to clear
the cinema, so Vi yelled ‘FIRE’. Laura
found the fire alarm, and that was that.
By the time the thing had materialised, everyone else was outside…”
see Giles switch into Watcher mode, even though it cost him a real effort.
“Yes, I think
so. Or grew, very, very rapidly. It finished up about half the size of the
cinema, not counting the legs… tentacles, I mean.”
“It was giving
us a pasting, to be honest, but we’d yelled fire, so it seemed a shame to let
that go to waste…”
“It would be
insured, wouldn’t it?”
There was no
more favourable ground, not at least that they could find, and at last she
acknowledged the unwelcome truth.
can’t do magic here. Absolutely
nothing. I’m trying to understand why,
see if we can do something about it…”
aware that his attention had shifted.
“Ella, can we
“Yeah. There are things coming towards us from most
directions… and I think I need to find shelter.”
exactly. At least, it doesn’t feel the
same, but something…”
good to me as crispy crackling, so, lead on MacDuff…”
at the misquotation, and looked around.
The dark bulk of a nearby small cliff face seemed to have some darker
shadows. Caves, if he was lucky. Hollows or depressions if he wasn’t, but
vampire claws were as good for digging earth as rending flesh. He could, if necessary, make a small but
reached the cliff, they could see that it was small, only about thirty feet
high, running for as far as they could see in the darkness. Unfortunately, it was also sheer. Daylight was coming, he was sure, and so
were other things, things that might be as dangerous to Ella as the sun was to
him. He put out a hand to stop her as
she unhesitatingly sought out the first foothold.
“No. I’ll give you a piggyback – it’ll be safer.”
So, with Ella
clinging to his back, he made a leap up the cliff, and in two bounds was
standing on a ledge in front of a cave mouth, narrow but high enough for them
to walk into without stooping. Inside,
the cave was small, but opened out into a rounded space that would enable him
to avoid any direct sunlight. It was as
good as he could have expected. Even
better, it was unoccupied.
There had been
a small – or not so small, actually – difference of opinion but, unusually,
Giles had won. He had left an unwilling
Buffy in charge of the girls, and he was off to see the Coven. It was late, he knew, but this really was an
emergency, involving one of their own members.
The Coven had seemed to value Angel, too. Buffy had wanted to come, but she accepted, eventually, that
someone had to stay and make sure that the cinema crisis was properly resolved,
and that someone should be her.
left, she had asked him, with a look of quiet desperation in her eyes, not to
be long. She’d said, “Giles, I remember
a hell where a day here lasted a hundred years there. And… Angel never told me exactly how long he was in Acathla’s
hell, but it certainly wasn’t only three months…”
He knew what
she was saying. Apart from the trauma
to their missing, Angel might well come back physically unaltered. Ella might not. And the night wasn’t getting any younger. He’d been to Hilda’s house, but it was
empty. Now, he was on the way to
Mildred’s. Mildred lived alone, in a
rambling, dilapidated old house that was rather isolated. He knew that the Coven, when they were
carrying out some of the more serious magic, would often do it here, where
there was ample room for all of them to work.
He hoped now might be one of those times. And he hoped someone slightly easier to talk to than Mildred
might be available.
When he got
there, the house was in darkness, but there were a number of cars in the
adjoining lane. Good. Not just Mildred, then. He recognised Hilda’s Astra Estate car; it
was very functional, although her choice of turquoise had always amused him.
belt-bound book beneath one arm, he hunted around the front door area, and
eventually found the bell push underneath a mass of winter-flowering
clematis. He was relieved to hear a
buzzer sound inside the house. There
was no reply, though.
He tried two
or three times, and then resorted to hammering on the door. Still no reply. He walked back down the path, wondering whereabouts the witches
might be working. Then he resorted to
Are you there? It’s Rupert
Giles. It’s *really* urgent. Hilda!”
snapped on in one of the upstairs rooms, and he waited patiently for the door
to open. Most of those here were
elderly women, who might not be too spry in getting to the door. Instead, though, he heard a window open
overhead. He stepped back a little, and
saw Mildred, peering out. Even allowing
that the light was behind here, and the position not flattering, he thought she
looked exhausted. Her voice was
“What do you
want, young man?”
“I’m sorry to
disturb you at this hour. I need to
speak to Hilda, urgently.”
“Impossible. We have important matters to attend to and I
can only be spared for a few moments.
Hilda can’t be spared at all. Go
She started to
close the window, and he felt panic rising in his throat.
I need help.”
“This is a demon
trap, or something like it. Ella… It’s got Ella.”
even in the dim light, that she turned grey.
“I, I just
opened it, and it took her. Her and
Angel. It nearly took Buffy too…”
He trailed off
as he saw Mildred’s face. He thought
she might be having a heart attack.
“It took the
creature? The vampire?”
There was a
full half-minute of silence, which he had the sense to understand he shouldn’t
break, as Mildred fought with herself.
people keep anything safe? Hold up the
He did so, and
she leaned from the window to get a clearer look. Her face was now filled with infinite sadness.
“We have lost
other witches to that book. We thought
it forever lost or destroyed, and it would have been good riddance. None of them have ever come back. We cannot help you. You must take it away from here, before you
do even more damage. We cannot
help. You must look for a way
yourself. Or they must find a way
out. There is little enough hope of
He heard a
voice, faint and quavering, from another room.
From somewhere else, at the very least.
Mildred turned towards the speaker.
coming. Hold steady.”
back to him.
“We have our
own dangers to face. I cannot stay.”
As she pulled
the window to, he called out to her.
“But, if I’m
to find anything, I don’t even know the name of the book. Help me with something…”
And then she
thought the cave was unoccupied. It turned
out that a tiny crack in the rock at the very back had held a whole nest of
spider-like creatures. They were all
dead now, leaving Angel sucking a bitten thumb, while Ella kicked the bodies
out into the daylight. There had been
no dawn and no sunrise. Simply, it had
been night, and now it wasn’t. She
stood in the entrance, looking back the way they had come. She could still see the remnants of the
vortex, high in the sky. She was
grateful for that, and so was Angel, when she told him.
He took his
coat off, and rolled it into a pillow, then gestured for her to make herself
comfortable on it.
“I don’t need
much sleep. I’ll just sit here, and
make sure I can avoid the sun whenever it moves around here.” Or whatever causes the light, he thought.
She lay down,
trying to get as comfortable as possible.
Camping out had never been her thing, but she was afraid she might be
doing quite a lot of it now. She had a
really bad feeling…
“Angel… Where do you think we are?”
“I don’t know.”
He didn’t, but
he’d caught a glimpse of the horizon, and he knew that she had. It had seemed to curve upwards, in
all defiance of natural laws. He hoped
that it just meant that natural laws were different here, but he really didn’t
“Angel… How do you feel? Do you feel as if you’re still, you know, you?”
“Yes, yes I
do. I can’t change back to human, but
otherwise, everything is much the same.”
everything. Just something, niggling at him, as he sucked his thumb.
my magic. It’s tied to the earth. Everything I can do as a witch – and every
other witch, as well – it’s because the power is provided by the land, and by
everything on the land. I think that,
either this place is nothing to do with our Earth, or the land is so corrupted,
or so weakened, that there is no power for me to draw on. I’ve always been able to feel the power,
even when I was too young to know what it was.
I can’t feel anything here. It’s
the emptiest feeling I’ve ever had. If
we need magic to get out of here, I can’t do it.”
pretty much come to that conclusion already, but he saw one flaw with the
there’s no magic here, why am I still walking around? Why aren’t I dust?”
demon.” She almost felt him flinch, but
he said nothing. “Your power is part of
what you are. I have the ability to use
power from elsewhere. Your demon simply
has power in itself. It doesn’t need
power from anywhere else. Demons and
witches are different.”
“Then why are
we both here?”
They were both
silent for a little while, and then Angel told her to try to sleep a
little. He knew that she would soon
start to get hungry and thirsty. He
knew that he would, too. He didn’t want
to sleep, though. Apart from the
unknown trajectory of the sun, he was afraid of his dreams. He didn’t know how long they might be
here. If he started to get hungry, he
might start to wonder what witch-cum-faery blood might taste like. He needed to be in control. He wasn’t going to kill another of Giles’
He tried to
get a little more comfortable back in the shadows, and to ignore the throbbing
in his thumb. It was like a bee sting,
only more annoying, and he wondered briefly whether toxin had been involved, but
then, as Ella’s breathing started to slow and steady, he felt his own
consciousness start to slip away.
When Giles got
back to the house, the slayers were in bed, catching a couple of hours sleep
after the evening’s trials. Except
Buffy. She was in his study, poring
over books. She was red-eyed, but not,
he thought, from reading. He affected
to ignore that. He was honest with her
about what Mildred had told him. He was
old enough not to want to bear the entire burden himself, and she had been
through enough to be able to see right through him if he tried to lie.
On the way
home, he had decided what to do. He
knew of one group of people who had been involved with a demon trap book once
before. He would see if they knew more
now than he had known then.
He put the
book carefully out of the way, and asked Buffy to make some soup and sandwiches
and a large pot of tea. It had been a
long night, and was likely to be an even longer day, but she was right. Time might flow differently, wherever their
loved ones were, and there wasn’t a moment to lose.
She was about
to bridle at his request, but when she saw that he was going upstairs, in
search, she presumed, of something, she held her peace and went to the kitchen. The time alone had been instructive, if only
about herself. If Angel didn’t come
back, it would be Giles’ fault. He
might as well have murdered the man she loved.
That was the thought that had dogged her. Now, she thought she might understand more viscerally Giles’
feelings about Jenny’s death, even though it hadn’t been Angel who had done
that terrible deed. Jenny had been
Angel’s fault, and Angel would be Giles’ fault, and they would both have to live
with that. By the time she’d finished in
the kitchen, the sandwiches weren’t very pretty, and she really didn’t care.
that Giles was back to poking around his stuff in the main bedroom, but he
didn’t. Instead, he opened up the trap
in the ceiling and pulled down the loft ladder. There were more things up here; things that he hadn’t been able
to bear to part with, but that he’d hoped he would never have to see
again. One of the boxes up here held Jenny’s
belongings, those that he’d kept. He
opened up the cardboard box, and saw the few things that were left of her. No time.
There was no time for introspection.
She would have been furious if he’d left another girl to die because he
couldn’t act quickly enough. He found
what he was looking for. Her address
book included web addresses. He hoped
that some of her techno-pagan group were still around.
Dreams. His dreams were always strange things. Darla
had said that they held horrors, and she had been right about that. There were the horrors that he had done to
other people, and not only in his century and a half as Angelus. Then again, there were the horrors that had
been done to him. He had told Buffy
that he didn’t remember his time in hell, but he’d lied about that. He already carried the burden of the memory. It would do no good to burden her, too. And finally, there were always the horrors
that he still wanted to do. Those were
things that he often dreamed about.
this day’s dream wasn’t one of those horrors at all. It was worse. He dreamed
that the Coven were mistaken in telling them that the happiness clause was
gone, and this was therefore a forbidden dream that might bring horror to them
all, as he turned to take Buffy into his arms.
For just a moment, he saw green eyes in a triangular face, with
blue-grey skin, and then it was his own lover, smiling for him. She pressed herself against him, from the
very tip of her toes to her forehead, every inch of her imprinting itself into
his skin. And then he did what he’d
only done once, to her knowledge. The
silken feel of her hair on his shoulder, the slide of skin on skin, the perfume
of her, all filled his senses to completion.
He felt the throb of her pulse beneath his fangs, smelled the sweet
richness of her blood; and there was the slick sweat, and the soft sighs, as
his fever dream mounted…
Giles sat at
the computer in the study. He had
become more familiar with this new-fangled devilry in recent months, but he
still hated the plasticness of it.
Buffy had drawn a chair up behind him, but he had laid on her a severe
stricture to stay quiet. This would be
hard enough as it was. He took a long
drink of tea, and typed in the first address.
It was close
to noon, and the forty-seventh address, before he got a reply that didn’t say
‘Undeliverable Mail’. It was from an
address in Mexico, the addressee simply called ‘Ata’ in Jenny’s book.
you, Rupert. We were in the Circle of
Kayless for you. We miss Jenny,
too. What can I do this time?>
know anything about another book, Dee’s ‘Duat’?>
sat idle for a few moments. Giles
wondered what was happening at the other end.
open it. You should destroy it.>
late for that. It has Ella, my girlfriend,
and Angel. You know Angel?>
reply seemed long in coming.
<I know of
Angel. I am sorry.>
this book? What can we do?>
tracked this book. So far as we know,
nothing that goes in ever comes out.
Nothing. I understand why it
took Angel. Why Ella?>
<I know of
nothing that can help you.>
This time, the
pause was at the Westbury end of the connection. Buffy thought she saw the tiny slump of defeat in Giles’
shoulders, and she put her hand onto his shoulder.
“If they can’t
help us, tell them to tell us what they do know. We’ll help ourselves, then!”
straightened his shoulders, and typed.
you know about the book?>
constructed by Dr John Dee…>
Philosopher to Elizabeth I?>
<Yes. We believe it was commissioned by someone,
but we don’t know who or for what specific purpose. It’s speculated that the Queen herself paid for it, as an
assassination tool for those in power whom she thought might not be entirely human,
but we don’t know…>
<How do I
know whether this is the same book?>
have the constellation of Orion on the front?>
name ‘Duat’ in the Enochian alphabet?>
his forehead with the heel of his hand.
“Enochian alphabet! Of course…”
have the book.>
tell me more?>
no actual records of this book ever changing hands. There are simply records that at some point in time, it belongs
to someone, and then it belongs to someone else. Giving the book seems to have been a secret thing. Elizabeth I had it in the 1560’s. It’s mentioned as being at Topkapi, as a
possession of Suleyman the Magnificent, when he died in 1566, and then it was
back with Dee in the 1570’s. In 1584,
it went to Russia, to Ivan the Terrible, we assume via the Muscovy
Company. He died the same year,
although we don’t know if that’s related.
It came back to Dee that year, and we don’t know who had it after his
death, nor for the next two hundred years, but Catherine the Great got it in
the 1790’s. Napoleon seems to have
brought it back in the retreat from Moscow in 1812, although how he found it is
anybody’s guess. We assume that it was
then looted with the rest of his possessions after Waterloo, but there’s no
trace of it, until 1999, when it was in the Watchers’ ‘Most Secret’
library. We thought it had been blown
up and destroyed with the rest of the Watchers and their Headquarters.>
you. Is there anything else?>
<No. We will try to find more information. We’ll be back in touch if we do.>
connection was cut.
does all that mean?”
except that the wretched book seems to have been used as a demon trap across
the world for over 400 years.”
“Will they… will
they know anything about what’s going on?
Are they, you know, not conscious of anything, or are they facing a 400
year old collection of demons?”
was pounding with fear for Angel. He
had no weapons with him, nothing to help him survive. But with Ella, surely they’d be all right? Surely…
Giles was no less fearful, and he couldn’t hide that just now.
no idea. None at all…”