Beyond the Pain
Image by the illustrious Christytrekkie from her story Fanart, Fear Not The Multiverse
Disclaimer: I don’t own Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel or One Tree Hill.
This story was conceived as part of my memorial to Andy Hallett. [It will eventually carry a banner illustration.] I feel as though I’ve lost a friend, who died much too young. You are mourned and missed.
Note: This story is NOT a sequel and it CAN be read alone. It takes place during my story A New Heart
after the chapter Making Things Right. Since the focus is on Giles and Lorne, rather than Buffy and Dan, it seemed like a better fit as a separate story, so the story now becomes a series. The series begins approximately nine months after the present season of One Tree Hill. For those not following the series, Not Fade Away ended with the death of all our heroes except Lorne, since he walked away, ashamed of what he’d done for Angel. Without help, Angel and company didn’t survive, though they did succeed in stopping the Black Thorn.
Giles called the number Buffy had given him as soon as he got to Washington, DC. He had decided to visit Lorne in New York before returning to London, but first he would call to make sure this was acceptable.
“Uh… Hullo, this is Rupert Giles…” he said feeling uncharacteristically at a loss for words.
“Oh Hello, Mr. Giles, Buffy told me you’d be calling,” Lorne said politely.
“I was wondering if it would be all right for me to pay you a visit,” said Giles, sounding as tentative as he felt.
“But of course,” Lorne sounded surprised. “When can I expect you?”
Lorne was the personification of pleasantness. Giles hoped he could somehow convince Lorne how very sorry he was. There was nothing he could do to turn the clock back. When they had needed help most, Giles had refused it. Lorne’s friends were all dead. Giles was in no small way responsible. From what Buffy said, Giles was in no danger from Lorne. Lorne was a mild mannered demon, an urbane man of the city – a peacemaker, a mediator, a guide… Yet Giles was still surprised at the reception he received. Many people in Lorne’s place would be hostile. Instead, here they were exchanging pleasantries, and making arrangements. Tonight Giles would visit Lorne’s new bar, Charis. Buffy had told Giles that Lorne’s old bar in LA had been called Caritas, so he thought it was fitting. Mercy replaced by Grace – or goodwill depending on your interpretation of the Greek. Charis was in the heart of Manhattan. Giles wondered how Lorne could afford such a prime piece of real estate.
Giles hadn’t spent much time in New York since the 1970s. Somehow, it seemed… tamer… maybe a little less grimy – but it was still New York. It was… alive… Even at this hour, there were people everywhere. Giles was surprised to see a line outside Lorne’s club, as late as it was. Wasn’t this just a karaoke demon bar? There wasn’t a single person who looked like a demon anywhere in the line. Of course, Giles knew that meant nothing.
Lorne had told him to give his name to the man at the door and not wait in line, but he hadn’t understood what that meant until now. Within minutes he was past the door and inside. Though there were no visible metal detectors, all sorts of alarms seemed to go off when he passed down the corridor to the inner entrance. He was offered a box for his weapons, with no questions, just the polite instruction:
“All of them please, even the stakes. You will be quite safe here,” that was when Giles remembered that Buffy had told him the club was a sanctuary – free from weapons and violence, enforced by powerful magics. As soon as he’d extracted the last stake, a tall, elegant green demon appeared to welcome him.
“Good evening Mr. Giles, it is a pleasure to have you here this evening!” Lorne said, extending his hand.
“Good evening to you. You would be the host then?” Giles asked. Suddenly ‘Lorne’ seemed a tad informal.
“I am, but you may call me Lorne. Any friend of the slayer is a friend,” he said graciously, extending his hand.
Giles noticed he didn’t say ‘of mine’, but that
was probably too much to ask.
“Thank you,” said Giles, again feeling at a loss for words.
The club – now he was inside – was well appointed. It was colorful, but in a way that still somehow managed to be classy. There were humans and demons mingling freely and peaceably. Giles was beginning to understand why Buffy and Faith had wanted to bring Lorne onto the council board. Currently there was a human couple on stage singing a love song in a rather mediocre manner. Lorne seemed to be listening to them with one ear, while he settled Giles at a table, and provided him with a Balvenie Doublewood, one of the finest single malt Scotches in existence. Giles savored the mellow, spicy taste, wondering what exactly he’d done to merit such an extravagance. Once again, Buffy had been right. Lorne was an exceptional person. As he watched, Lorne worked the room like the pro he was, talking to the couple who had been singing, and smoothly introducing the next singer… Then he was back, taking a seat next to Giles for the first time.
“So what will you be singing for me tonight, Sugar Plum?”
Giles looked at Lorne, not knowing what to say. Buffy had told him that Lorne was an empath – an anagogic demon who put people on their path, but Giles seriously doubted that could be Lorne’s intent. He had no idea what Lorne’s intent could be. He’d never been addressed as sugar plum either, and that was a place a bit too far for Giles. Nevertheless, he wanted very much to please Lorne – anything to somehow atone.
“What would you like me to sing?” Giles asked finally.
“What’s your favorite song? Buffy says you’re quite a good musician… There’s a guitar around here someplace, if you’d prefer to accompany yourself.”
“I’m not sure I have a favorite song…” Giles said hesitantly, trying to decide what to sing. He supposed it really didn’t matter. What Lorne saw, he would see, no matter what song he chose. However, a song came to him, one that was full of meaning for Giles. He thought Lorne might also appreciate it.
“It’s a song by the Eagles… I think I remember all the chords. It was written to remember a friend.”
Suddenly there was a guitar in his hands, and Giles quickly discovered it needed no tuning.
“How would you like to be introduced, Mr Giles?”
“Just call me Ripper,” Giles said. He seriously doubted anyone here, even the demons would recognize the name Rupert Giles, but why not be cautious. Anyway, Ripper sounded a lot more like a man with a guitar than Rupert. Wasn’t that why he’d embraced Ethan’s nickname for him after all?
“Ladies and Gentlemen we have a special guest tonight. He’s going to do a song by the Eagles. It gives me great pleasure to introduce to you… Ripper!” Lorne said with a flourish. Giles was more nervous than he’d been in years. He’d never actually sung this song in public before, but there had been a time when it was one of his favorites. It suited his frame of mind perfectly tonight.“Tell me the truth, how do you feel?
Like you're rollin' so fast that you're spinnin' your wheels?
Don't feel too bad, you're not all alone
We're all tryin' to get along
With ev'rybody else try'n' to go their way
You're bound to get tripped, and what can you say?
Just go along 'til they turn out the lights
There's nothin' we can do to fight it
As it always had, the song put him in a melancholy mood, and the emotion poured from him, and his voice soared with passion. No man's got it made till he's far beyond the pain
And we who must remain go on living just the same
He found Lorne was looking straight at him, and in that instant, Giles was singing only to him, for him. It was an oddly intimate experience.I once knew a man, very talented guy
He's sing for the people and people would cry
They knew that his song came from deep down inside
You could hear it in his voice and see it in his eyes
Even without practice, Giles played instinctively, and the music flowed out of him in a cascade of feeling that quieted the usually boisterous club. And so he traveled along, touch your heart, then be gone
Like a flower, he bloomed till that old hickory wind
Called him home
My man's got it made
He's gone far beyond the pain
And we who must remain go on living just the same
We who must remain go on laughing just the same
When he was finished, there was complete silence for a moment, and then the entire club erupted in enthusiastic applause. It was one of those moments a performer always remembers in his life – a moment when they connect with a crowd in a very special way. Giles felt this like electricity in his blood, as he never had, even in his days of regular performance. He was almost in a daze as he left the stage, and Lorne introduced the next performer. Then Lorne was with him, guiding him down a short hallway, into what must be his own office, a quiet, elegant room furnished in blues, greens and purples… Despite the color palette, it was a decidedly masculine room.
“When Buffy said you were coming, I knew something important had happened.”
“Because I would never have bothered to come otherwise?” Giles asked, a little sadly.
“That and because I could hear it in her voice. She’s very proud of you, you know,” said Lorne.
“Proud?” Giles said, sounding bewildered. “Why would she be proud of me?”
“She sees how far you’ve come,” Lorne said.
“Oh,” said Giles. “Well, we did talk.”
“And visit alternative realities,” Lorne said.
“She told you about that?” Giles asked. He knew Buffy trusted this man, so he supposed it wasn’t that much of a surprise.
“No. I saw you,” Lorne said.
“Can you see everything then?”
“Thankfully, no,” said Lorne. “Though there have been times when I wished I could see more. Most times it’s just enough.”
“So you saw what we did?” Giles asked.
“I saw you save my friends, yes,” Lorne said.
“So it works then?” Giles said.
“That it does... and a good thing too. If you had not gone, all would have been lost…”“All?”
Giles asked, swallowing hard.
“You do know the meaning of the word?” Lorne said, grinning at him.
“So in that reality, the world would have been lost?”
“They got involved?” Giles shook his head in dismay.
“They got slaughtered,” Lorne said. “They showed up after the fight in the alley had gone south, and they were no match for what they found there. Within 48 hours, Los Angeles was a post apocalyptic hell hole… And within a few years… There was nothing left of humanity. Rival demons got a hold of military codes, and nuked each other…”
“You saw all that from my few minutes of singing?”
“That’s not all I saw,” said Lorne. “I saw how much you need love.”
“I’m assuming that’s not an offer…” Giles joked with him. He already knew the answer
“Not that it wouldn’t be nice,” Lorne said, shaking his head and smiling. “…but there’s a young lady in London.”
“With emphasis on young,” Giles said, suddenly looking uncomfortable. “I couldn’t do something like that.”
“Yet, you know she loves you,” said Lorne.
“Yes, unfortunately. Silly girl,” Giles said. “She’s younger than Buffy, for God's sake.”
“You’re both adults,” said Lorne. “It’s not my place to tell you what to do.”
“But you think I should pursue it?”
“It’s not my place to direct. I just show people their path,” said Lorne.
“Why would you even do this for me?”
“It’s what I do. It’s who I am,”
“That’s it isn’t it? You’re trying to help me to do what I should and be who I’m supposed to be?”
“Isn’t that why we’re here? To help each other?”
“I owe you so much already… I got all your friends killed. Why would you help me?”
“I think you already know the answer,” Lorne said.
“You’ve forgiven me?”
Lorne nodded. “I’ve wanted to do that for a while… You only just asked.”
“You’re a strange man… demon…”
“Man is fine… demons’ good too,” Lorne said shrugging.
“I guess you’re both,” Giles said.
Lorne just smiled. “I’m a guide,” said Lorne. “That’s my path. When I’m right with someone and can guide them… That’s the best of all worlds.”
“So we’re ‘right’?” asked Giles, sounding surprised.
“That we are,” said Lorne, nodding slightly.
“I’m glad. I had no idea where to begin – how to apologize. How could I ever begin to make amends for allowing all your friends to die? How can one say sorry for such an error in judgment?”
“It was an error in heart
, Mr. Giles. People only judge others when they lose the ability to empathize. It would be a great mistake to make that error again,” said Lorne. “As for amends – I guess those are the only ones you owe me… to make different choices.
“I will try to remember that,” said Giles. “I guess too much logic is a bad thing.”
“Logic is great as far as it will take you, Rupert. May I call you Rupert?”
“I’d like that. I’m not sure I could handle being called sugar plum again,” said Giles dryly.
“Then Sugar Plum it is!” said Lorne, grinning at him.
“Oh god,” said Giles, sounding both horrified and amused.
“Rupert. I think logic is a powerful tool… It’s just… insufficient. You deal in life and death every day. Logic will only get you part of the way. It’s critical that you keep this lesson with you. The fate of the world is going to be in your hands again… Our hands actually,” said Lorne with a hint of a smile.
“You’re going to work with the council?” Giles said, allowing his excitement to come out, instead of immediately clamping down on his feelings and reactions, like the proper English gentleman he was.
“If Buffy’ll have me,” Lorne said.
“I thought…” Giles stopped.
“That was a different council,” Lorne said, smiling at Giles. “Besides, I see something I didn’t see before. You really do need me.”
Giles grinned at him. He had a feeling his life was going to change a great deal. That seemed that was happening a lot to him lately. He wondered what she would say when he called her. For the first time in years, Giles felt truly free.
“We really do,” said Giles.
My Man is an amazing song by the Eagles from their album On the Border.
It was written by member Bernie Leadon
in memory of fellow musician Gram Parsons.
It is my tribute to Andy Hallett another talented musician, who is now beyond the pain.In memory of Andy Hallett, 4 August 1975 - 29 March 2009
Image by Christytrekkie from her story Fanart, Fear Not The Multiverse