Reason knows nothing
Disclaimers: If they were mine... you know this song already.
Spoilers: Screwed up ones up through Angel, S3.
Summary: There's a path through this.
Ratings Note: R.
Author's Note: At the end.
Acknowledgments: To Ben and Trog, fic-midwives
Feedback: Yes, please. email@example.com
"God, Giles, you would *not* believe what's going on around
here. I mean, Willow's all twelve steps girl, and not even
about anything interesting like heroin, and Wesley! Oh my
God, he's talking about going back to England and Spike's all
stalk-o boy, not like that's anything new --"
"I know, I know, this is all really a lot, but it's not like *any*
of you call unless there's some huge thing. I know more
about that pistol guy --"
"His name is Gunn, Cordelia --"
"Whatever. What kind of weird ass name is that for a person,
anyway? Is he one of those gang members? Because --"
"Cordelia. We lost the child."
" -- I've heard about -- what? What child? You mean... You
don't mean Connor, do you? Giles?"
Giles pinches the bridge of his nose, hard and sharp.
Deliberately switches the phone to his damaged hand. The
sudden pain makes breathing irrelevant... which seems.
Fitting. "Holtz took him to... to a demon universe. We have
no way to open the portal. We don't know what his plans
"Oh. Oh my God. Giles, I thought all of you were protecting
the baby! Weren't you trying to figure out what his
presence meant? I thought the Powers were involved! Giles,
Jesus, what *happened*?"
"We... we were betrayed, Cordelia."
"Xander. It was Xander, Cordelia."
Silence on the other end of the line. Incomplete. Imperfect --
he can hear Cordelia's breathing, irregular and shocked. It
used to be one of the great and secret joys of his life to
render Cordelia speechless. There is a kind of cruel and
guilty pleasure in it even now. Like stabbing oneself through
the hand and making someone else bleed.
"Are you there, Cordelia?"
"I... I. Yeah, Giles, are you *sure*?"
Giles runs his thumb over his newest scar, the oil of his
fingertips stinging and necessary. "Oh yes. Yes, I'm sure."
Xander remembers the logic of it all. That, most of all, is
what stays with him. He's not sure whether or not it's
keeping him sane, but watching the world through titanium
bars... well, there isn't much sane about that, anyway.
It all made perfect sense, though; a winding yet *true*
line back to the night of graduation. The stink of fire and
blood and the realization that even beyond the Apocalypse
Right Then and There of the world, everything had
Faith was in a coma. Buffy was blank with relief and grief.
Angel was walking away through the smoke -- and oh, the
joy of that had been savage and real -- and Giles was...
Giles was following.
"Someone has to... help him," he'd said, and his eyes were
wide and bloodshot.
Someone has to keep him on the straight and narrow was
what Xander heard. Someone had to be there to remind
him to keep a leash on his wayward friggin' soul, in a
world without Buffy.
He'd ridden back to Giles' apartment with him, Buffy too
angry to help and Willow too focused on Buffy to leave
her. He'd said, "Giles, who's going to help *you*?"
And even though he could *feel* Giles' laugh at the
implications before the man opened his mouth, Xander
had meant it. More than that, he'd *believed* in it. And
over the course of the night, as they moved from Giles'
place to his own, he had made Giles believe it, too.
"It's an entirely different world out there, Xander."
"Yeah, well, I think I'm ready for a little bit of entirely
Giles had smiled at him like Xander had done something
to be proud of, and by the time they made it to Los
Angeles, he thought they were something like friends.
And then came Doyle, and that had all ended badly, and
Gunn and Kate -- and if that ended well Xander would eat
his shoe -- and Faith woke up and did horrible things to
Giles, and Darla came back from the dead to kill a bunch
of lawyers and be really fucking disturbing with Drusilla
and give birth to Angel's baby, and everyone got their
own little epiphany.
Everyone but Xander, apparently, because he's almost
positive that people who have epiphanies don't wind up
in cage-equipped closets.
People who have epiphanies don't fuck up and give
newborn babies over to Hell.
Don't get their friends cut up and don't wind up in cages.
Don't deserve to be in cages.
Xander knows he belongs here.
More than anything else, Giles wants to know *why*.
There's a certain kind of symmetry to it, of course -- one
family slaughtered by Angelus and Darla, Angelus and
Darla's family made broken and bloody in late and terrible
response -- but he suspects that this isn't the way Xander's
Xander has a deep and abiding loathing for poetry that
only someone hurt by Angelus could reasonably develop.
And besides, he *knows* Xander. And while the boy
sympathized with Holtz in a way that was both obvious
No, it made no *sense*.
Yes, Xander would never be fond of Angel, and would
always be suspicious and hurt by Giles' forgiveness of the
Yes, Xander had always been disturbed by the child's
existence, and distrusting of Angel's love for him.
*Yes*, if anyone among them would turn and so turn
against them all, it would be Xander, impressionable,
moralistic, and terribly young Xander, but...
The man in Giles' closet hadn't turned. His remorse was
palpable even when he was screaming that he'd *had* to
do it. Had to take the child away, had to abandon Giles to
Holtz's minions when it seemed that Giles would try to take
Connor back to his father after all.
"Oh God, Giles, I'm so sorry," Xander says, over and over,
and Giles believes him.
"You didn't see it, Giles. You probably didn't even believe I
saw it. The way Angel -- not Angelus -- looked at the baby
like he was... like he was a fucking hors d'oeuvre! I had
Giles closes his eyes, happy that the arrangement of his flat
makes it impossible for the boy to see his face. "But I did
believe you, Xander. When you came to me with the baby...
with your appalling translation of the prophecy... I do
wonder why I tried to teach you Latin. It's abundantly clear
that no good will ever come of it."
They laugh together, and Giles imagines he can hear Xander's
hollow, humorless chuckles echo off the bars.
He squeezes his eyes shut tighter and tries to breathe around
the brick in his throat.
"I didn't know the prophecy... I thought it was *real*."
"And you didn't show anyone else because we were all
convinced Angel would do right by a child of his blood.
Gunn, Kate... ah, but not me."
"You only came here because you *didn't* trust him,
"You really believe that, don't you?" And it's clear. Glassine
"It was an excuse, wasn't it? The one, perfect thing you've
been waiting for since Angel came back from Hell." There's
an image in his mind of dark and firelit walls, of Xander
promising it would all be all right, untying him from that
accursed chair. Xander hadn't brushed Giles' mangled
hand once. Not even by accident. "Tell me, Xander... did
you know Willow was trying to restore his soul?"
Xander says nothing.
"Really, it had nothing to do with the false prophecy at all,
A hitched breath. "You can't believe that, Giles, I would...
I wouldn't --"
Giles sees himself standing, sees himself moving slowly
and carefully toward the cage, but he feels nothing. "You
fought at his side, you saved his life and let him save your
own countless times, Xander, but... you were waiting,
Xander's eyes are wide and brown and wet and innocent.
He's shaking his head, sweat-lank curls falling in his face.
"No," he says. "No, Giles, please, no, it's not like that at
He feels nothing. Nothing. Crouches before the new and
shiny bars, just beyond Xander's reach. Removes his
glasses and polishes them with half-absent motions. "I'm
afraid," he says, "that you're going to have to convince me."
And Xander shudders, and doesn't say a word.
Author's Note: Ben wanted me to put Xander in a cage, have Giles there, *and*
no references to hyena possession. This is what happened.