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One Night Outside of Destiny

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The trip to LA had been long and boring. It was a journey he had dreaded and one he would never have made unless he absolutely had to, and he did. Despite deep reservations he'd finally made it to Los Angeles without mishap. He was actually very proud of the fact that he didn't turn around once.

But finally there he sat in his red sports car, outside the hotel where Angel investigations had its home, not relishing the thought of entering the hotel. As a matter of fact he would much rather take a beating, or at the very least listen to Anya go on about her and Xander's love life than to ask the man in this building for help. But he didn't have a choice. Back in Sunnydale, his slayer was facing something that he wasn't sure she would be able to beat and they needed all the help they could get. With a deep breath, Giles got out of his car and walked into the lobby to ask one Wesley Wyndam-Pryce for help.

 

 

Two hours later Giles walked out of the hotel and got back in his car, the lines of worry and hopelessness etched even deeper into his features. That had been a trip in futility! Wesley hadn't been able to give him any more of an idea on what they were facing than what they already knew. Now the only thing left for him to do was to go home and tell his slayer that he'd failed. With a tired sigh he turned the key with one hand and he rubbed his stiff neck with the other. With a defeated sigh he pulled out onto the road.

Black despair grabbed a hold of him as he left the last vestige of hope behind him. Suddenly out of the corner of his eye a neon sign caught his attention. The sign read 'Caritas' and without thinking Giles turned into the parking lot across the street. He knew he should get back to Sunnydale, tell everyone what he knew but the truth was he hated to be the bearer of more bad news; or at the least, the bearer of no news. What he needed was a stiff drink, something to bolster his waning courage, even if it was only a tiny one and then he would get back on the road.

The bar was crowed as he walked through the door. A mixture of demons and humans sat at the tables that circled a small stage in the back of the room. But that wasn't what had captured his attention and made him cringe. A Chaos demon was on the stage butchering 'Highway to Hell'. Even though it wasn't one of his personal favorites he firmly believed that before attempting an iconic song, one should at least be able to carry a tune.

"Welcome to Caritas!"

Giles' mouth opened as he gaped at the demon that stood beside him. The blue suit, with a bright red shirt should have clashed horribly with his green skin but somehow the demon managed to wear the garish suit with flare. He'd never seen anything like it and he had lived in Sunnydale for years. But he still didn't have to be rude. He shook his head to clear it. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to stare. That was rude of me."

"That's okay, sweetie. It happens all the time to newcomers. And who could blame them? “ The demon pulled his lapel to one side in order to give Giles a better look before he closed it. "Now, what can I get you?"

Giles ran his hand through his hair as a deep sigh escaped him. "A shot of scotch." After telling himself he'd only stay for one drink, he sank into the chair in front of him.

With a nod, the demon snapped his fingers at the bartender and within moments a shot glass was sat on the table in front of him. "I'm the host here at Caritas but you can call me Lorne." He paused as he waited for the laughter he knew was coming. Everyone snickered when he told them his name. A full two minutes later and he was still waiting. "Well, aren't you going to laugh?"

Giles looked at the demon as if he'd lost his mind. Had he missed a joke of some sort? "At what?"

"Lorne," the host gestured to his skin. "Green." At the blank look on the man's face he continued. "The star of 'Bonanza'. Ring any bells?"

A soft smile pulled reluctantly at the corners of Giles' mouth. "I'm sorry. I haven't seen most of American television. Besides I'm the last one to make fun of anyone's name." He held out his hand to Lorne. "I'm Rupert Giles. Most everyone calls me Giles."

That explains the lack of humor. But there had to be more than that. Worry surrounded the man in front of him like a cocoon. It even came through in his handshake. Sometimes when someone came into his bar with this level of stress he was able to set them on the right path without them singing but Giles' aura was so murky that Lorne couldn't get a good read. The man would have to sing.

"This is a karaoke club for humans and demons?" Giles tried to keep the shock and censure out of his tone as he raised the glass to his lips and drank deeply.

Lorne smiled reassuringly. "Yes, but it's a lot more than that. It's a sanctuary for everyone. Anyone is welcome to come and sing. I read them and set them on their paths. There are even some who just come for the atmosphere. As a safe haven there's no violence allowed in Caritas."

"It..." Whatever Giles was about to say was lost as another demon, one that had no business mixing with humans, walked by the table where he sat. "You allow... but they're..." Giles let his sentence trail off into nothingness as he got a good look at the demons filling the bar. As he looked around the room, he struggled to come to terms with what he was seeing. He didn't mind humans mixing with demons. Living on the hellmouth, one got use to seeing all sorts of things. But he'd never thought he'd see the day where humans would willingly mix with demons that were bred for maiming and killing, demons that impregnated human women to build up an army or worse child eaters. What in the bloody hell kind of club was this?

 

At the worried look on the man's face, Lorne patted Giles' hand reassuringly. "Relax, sweetcakes. When I say no violence, I mean no violence. The Furies put a top notch sanctorum spell on Caritas. Trust me. Nothing's getting through that." He wouldn't mention the few times that very thing had happened. Besides this time those girls had assured him the spell could never be broken again.

For some reason the fact there was a no violence spell on the club made him feel better about being there. Maybe he shouldn't but he did. Although he just wasn't sure it had to do strictly with the spell. Giles turned in his seat to stare at the demon sitting beside him. At first glance he was just a green demon in a loud suit but there was more to him than that. Giles could feel it emanating from him. And for some reason he found it oddly soothing.

"Would you like to have a turn?"

"No."

"Oh, come on. Everyone loves karaoke." Lorne flashed him an encouraging grin.

Giles bit back a harsh retort. The last thing he felt like doing at the moment was singing. "Maybe some other time." At the look on the Host's face Giles knew the demon wanted to pursue the matter and he was relieved when Lorne finally let the subject drop.

Suddenly, Lorne stood and snapped his fingers as he gestured for the bartender to bring another round for Giles. "If you'll excuse me for a moment I have to rescue Mr. Frank Sinatra." Lorne cringed as he walked towards the stage but somehow managed to smile encouragingly at the demon standing in the spotlight murdering 'My Way.'

Without thinking of his one drink minimum Giles downed the scotch the bartender placed in front of him in one gulp as Lorne finished singing the song with the tone deaf demon by his side. An amused smile lit his face as Lorne fought a losing battle to drown out the other demon. Giles was shocked to find that he was actually having a good time. Despite everything that had happened and the harsh reality he had waiting for him in Sunnydale, at this moment he was content. It was a strange feeling, one he hadn't had in a very long time. He was so lost in thought that it took him a minute before he realized Lorne was talking about him.

"Ladies and Gentleman, Boys and Girls, Demons of all kinds, I have a special treat for you tonight. Put your hands together and give a round of applause to Rupert Giles!"

Giles sputtered and shot Lorne a murderous look. All he wanted was to sit for a little while longer before he headed back to the train wreck that was his life. He didn't want to sing. But at the expectant look on the host's face he knew he would give in so he might as well do it gracefully. As the beginning strands of his song began to play he quickly downed another scotch that had somehow appeared when he wasn't looking. With the fake courage surging through his body he walked onto the stage. Without a word he took the microphone from Lorne's outstretched hand, sat on the stool that someone had left behind, he closed his eyes and began to sing.

 


No one knows what it's like
To be the bad man
To be the sad man
Behind blue eyes

No one knows what it's like
To be hated
To be fated
To telling only lies

But my dreams
They aren't as empty
As my conscience seems to be

I have hours, only lonely
My love is vengeance
That's never free

 

For the first few seconds Lorne sat back in the chair and listened in awe as the words surrounded him. The man had a voice like an Angel; And an actual Angel not to be confused with the vampire with a soul. Lorne actually felt himself cringing at the thought. The poor thing hadn't been able to carry a note if you'd paid him. He gave himself a mental shake and began to listen to the man currently on stage and whether he knew it or not was pouring his heart and soul out to all who knew how to listen.

 


No one knows what it's like
To feel these feelings
Like I do
And I blame you!

No one bites back as hard
On their anger
None of my pain and woe
Can show through

But my dreams
They aren't as empty
As my conscience seems to be

I have hours, only lonely
My love is vengeance
That's never free

 

Suddenly, Lorne sat up straighter in his chair, his attention fixed on Giles. This wasn't good at all. No wonder he hadn't been able to read him. This man was under a lot of stress with a capital S. How anyone could face the things that he had faced and come through them relatively unharmed was beyond him. But the previous battles were nothing to what awaited him back in Sunnydale. How could he tell Giles the one person that he loved beyond imagining was going to die? That no matter what he did there was nothing he could do to help her... to save her.

Fate, destiny, whatever word you wanted to call it, it all boiled down to one thing; no matter how hard you tried or how much you wanted to, you couldn't outrun it, you couldn't cheat it and most of the time it really sucked. But, every once in a while, if you were very lucky, you could put it on hold for a brief moment.

 


When my fist clenches, crack it open
Before I use it and lose my cool
When I smile, tell me some bad news
Before I laugh and act like a fool

And if I swallow anything evil
Put your finger down my throat
And if I shiver, please give me a blanket
Keep me warm, let me wear your coat

No one knows what it's like
To be the bad man
To be the sad man
Behind blue eyes

 

As the song came to a close and Giles let go of the last note the bar went wild with applause. No one but himself had ever garnered such a reaction except for that one lawyer. Lorne gave himself a mental slap, now was not the time for him to go all diva.

Lorne stared silently as Giles made his way towards him. This was the time he hated being able to read people. There was nothing he could tell the other man to make his worry any less. As a matter of fact what he knew would only make it worse and that was one thing he didn't want to do. Not now and definitely not to this man.

"What was that all about?"

By the tone of his voice, Lorne could tell that Giles wasn't happy. He pushed another shot of scotch across the table towards Giles as he sat down and waited until he finished it before he spoke. "Now crumbcake, don't get your panties in a bunch. I simply needed to hear you sing..."

Although Giles felt it was the height of rudeness to interrupt someone when they were speaking just this once he couldn't stop himself. "Excuse me. My what in a what?"

Lorne swallowed a laugh at the shocked expression on the other man's face. Now was definitely not the time for laughter. "Forgive me. It was just an expression. What I meant was that I needed to hear you sing in order to help set you on your path."

"And?" Still upset over the way the demon had made him sing, Giles' tone was clipped.

Desperate for a way to stall Lorne motioned to the bartender. Without a word, Ramon sat another scotch in front of Giles and a sea breeze in front of his boss. He stared at his glass before he picked it up, took a small sip and proceeded to smack his lips. "Mmmmm! That man knows how to make a drink. Just the right amount of sea and the perfect breeze."

"Lorne. What did you see?"

This was it. Time to tell the man everything that he had seen but he couldn't do it. He didn't want to face the pain that he knew would come into the other man's eyes. Instead Lorne began speaking about fate and destiny while he plied him with more scotch and waited for the alcohol to hit Giles' system. As a twinge of guilt assaulted him, Lorne told himself it was for Giles' own good. The man deserved one night without having to worry about what was happening, about things he couldn't stop no matter how hard he tried. With that thought in mind Lorne quickly gestured to the bartender to keep the drinks coming.

"Lorne." Giles really hated repeating himself.

Lorne waved his hand at the man sitting beside him. "Shh..Not now, Mr. Impatient. You're not the only one I have to read, you know?"

Giles clenched his teeth together but somehow he managed to keep from strangling the demon beside him. Although how he succeeded was beyond him.

Two hours later, the two men, one human, the other demon drank their beverages and listened as each of the customers at Caritas took their turns on the stage. Even though he was determined not to, without quite knowing how Giles realized he was enjoying the evening. Suddenly the watcher found himself trying hard not to laugh at the demon on stage trying to sing a rendition of the Bay City Rollers classic Give A Little Love but he failed miserably as he collapsed into giggles behind his hand. He couldn't remember when he had ever had this much fun. But all good things had to come to an end.

With a long heartfelt sigh, Giles pushed back the chair as he stood up, he lilted to the side but quickly caught himself by grabbing the back of Lorne's chair. "I quite enjued...enjussed...enjo... I had fun. But I have to get back to Sunny.... Sunny...uh you know. That place." He reached into his trousers and fumbled for his keys. "I know I had...where would...AHA!" Giles shot Lorne a lopsided grin as he finally managed to pull his keys out of his pocket.

Before Giles knew what happened, Lorne had stood and quickly grabbed the keys out of his hand. "Now, sweetie, you know I can't let you drive in this condition." Without waiting for his consent, Lorne lead the other man up the stairs into his bedroom and helped him get into the bed. "Besides you want to know what I saw when you sang remember? Well, I won't tell you now. And you wouldn't remember if I did."

"But you'll...you'll tell me tomorrow?" Giles' words slurred as he spoke.

Lorne cringed at the thought of what he'd have to say but he made the promise. "Yes, I'll tell you everything tomorrow." He didn't have a choice. If only he could keep the man here where nothing bad could ever touch him again but he knew that wasn't the way destiny worked. Giles belonged back in Sunnydale with his slayer. And he was meant to be... well Lorne wasn't really sure but he knew it wasn't with the man currently lying in his bed.

Giles was already snoring as Lorne pulled the blanket over him. "Sleep tight, sweetness. Your destiny awaits." He whispered as he tucked the blanket around Giles. With one longing filled backward glance Lorne turned and tiptoed out of the room cursing Fate as he went.