Giles was pacing back and forth between his kitchen and the front door and it was driving Slayer and Slayerettes out of their already frazzled minds.
They had spent the day pretending to be interested in whatever they were doing - be it going to class or having a ridiculously expensive cappuccino at the Espresso Pump - but they couldn't take much more of this. Giles had thrown them out (in a nice way) after the Guardian's departure the night before, with the promise that he would explain everything the next evening. They had been waiting for him to open his mouth and start talking for about ten minutes - which was the limit of their collective attention span at the moment.
"Giles," Buffy reiterated. "Sharing mode, remember?"
The Watcher stopped in his tracks and turned around to face them. He couldn't stall any longer.
"Morghane was the one who sent Angel to Buffy four years ago."
Buffy's jaw dropped.
"Wow," commented Xander, nonplused. "Cut right to the chase, G-man, why don't you."
"What do you mean she sent him...?" asked Buffy. She wasn't about to let Xander babble on. This was too important. Angel had never told her anything about a Guardian. "Whistler..."
"Whistler is one of a handful of demons who work for the Guardian."
"She has demonic help?" Buffy thought out loud, bummed. "How come I don't?"
"You do actually," answered Giles. "Or did."
She looked at him, uncomprehending.
"Angel," said Giles, kindly.
Willow cleared her throat then blushed when everyone turned to look at her.
"Giles, I think... What I mean is... Could you be more explicit?"
Giles nodded. "You're right, Willow. No time for riddles... or idle chit-chat," he added, staring pointedly at Xander.
"Okay, okay. I can take a hint."
The Watcher looked doubtful, but carried on nonetheless.
"When Angel's soul was forcefully returned to his body, well, let's say that it created such a backlash on the ethereal plane that Morghane felt it even though she was on the other side of the planet at the time. You see, souls are meant to cross one way, not the other. Ghosts and other poltergeists are souls trapped in our plane, whose attachment to the ethereal community has been severed before death for various reasons, meaning they are lost and cannot find the way to move on. To rip a soul away from the ethereal community is almost unheard of. Very few demons are powerful enough to prey on souls once they have crossed over to the upper plane and the Guardian is their unrelenting adversary. The Kalderash knew this. As depository of the Old Magicks, they serve the Guardian as a rule. But their anger towards Angelus was so strong and irrational that they chose to brave the Guardian's formal proscription and called Angel's soul back regardless.
"The negative magical and spiritual energy released upon completion of the curse was so powerful that Morghane plainly collapsed in her tracks and remained unconscious for days afterwards. You see, the Guardian has this kind of mystical connection to all human souls... Whatever. When she regained consciousness, she was beyond outraged. She traveled to Romania and confronted the gypsies. They were unrepentant, as you can well imagine. As punishment, Morghane deprived them of the magicks necessary to perform such a spell ever again and cast the clan away from her protection."
"Did she know about the happiness clause?" asked Buffy simply.
Giles shook his head. "No. As I understand it, she was not in a discussing mood at the time. I imagine the Kalderash were too scared she would strip them of all magicks if they confessed to the full extent of the curse and faced her wrath." Giles paused. "Please bear in mind that I learned all this from Angel. He came to me after... Christmas last year, when he was trying to understand why he had been released from Hell and what the First Evil wanted from him. He himself learned most of the story from Whistler rather than from the Guardian herself."
Buffy shivered. She didn't like to be reminded of last Christmas. The mad race up the hill behind the mansion. The tremors in Angel's voice, the tears in his eyes, the defeat, and the utter certainty that whatever she said the sun would rise and he would burst into flames in front of her.
Giles continued on, oblivious. "Morghane tried to track Angel down but he was long gone. However, she knew what being so brutally ripped from its restful place could do to a soul - especially to share a body with a demon. She feared Angel would go insane or commit suicide, which was simply more abuse than his soul could take without permanent spiritual damage.
"So she decided to... to... this is not easy to explain. Hm... she performed an act of High Magick on the ethereal plane and created a... a bond between her own soul and Angel's. A protective spell if you will, sort of like a mystical shield, to make the transition easier for Angel. Well, as much as could be, anyway."
Buffy frowned. In some way she was grateful that Morghane had spared Angel any more pain. In another, more primal way she didn't like the sound of this bond business. At all. But she didn't feel like sharing her confusion quite yet.
"Much like you, Buffy, Morghane has distanced herself from the Watcher Council. Actually, the Council is theoretically subordinated to the Guardian, but I think Morghane couldn't be bothered to deal with their internal politics after the first couple of centuries. She's pretty much kept away from both Watchers and Slayers ever since. She does not agree with the way the Council conceive of the Slayer-Guardian relationship."
"What do you mean?" Willow asked, perplexed.
"As far as we can remember, the Slayer's duty has always included protecting the Guardian. Being her first line of defense, if you will, upon the Guardian's request. Morghane always considered that the Slayer had enough on her... plate, as you might say, without having to act as her bodyguard on top of everything else.
'Guardians are powerful mages from birth and the only time when they are really vulnerable is in the few years after they are Called and must learn to master Guardian Magick. Quite a few Guardians have been destroyed during those first critical years. Morghane and I always agreed on that point. The Council, however, does not like for things to change... Well, I guess you have first hand experience of that," Giles said, addressing Buffy. Her eighteenth birthday was not such a sore point anymore. They had put the whole thing behind them a long time ago. "Yet the Slayer's average life expectancy has... greatly improved since Morghane took matters into her own hands."
"Sounds like a nice enough kind of chick to me," commented Xander, trying to get a rise out of the Watcher.
He really wanted to get to the bottom of yesterday's little display.
Giles' expression darkened, although he wasn't as tense as last night.
"Yes, well. Back to Morghane and Angel. From what I gleaned from the Watcher Diaries, the Guardian was involved in a fight with a major demon for almost fifty years and it took her some time to recover."
"Fifty years?" piped Willow.
"Like time passes differently in Hell, it passes differently on the ethereal plane. Scholars believe that it is one of the reasons for the Guardian's extended life span. Seven days in the ethereal dimension would be the equivalent of about half a century here.
'Anyway, afterwards she joined forces with the Slayer a couple of times and then there's no mention of her for about a decade. She might have been in the ethereal dimension again, I don't know. Then the last Slayer passed away and Buffy was Called." He took a deep breath. "As you all are aware, Buffy was not trained as a potential Slayer from birth and as we approached the new millennium... well, millennial Slayers always face more than their share of apocalyptic threats, and an untrained Slayer, well... the situation was dire to say the least."
"Angel..." Buffy whispered wistfully, understanding.
Giles smiled sadly. "Yes. Angel. Morghane took it upon herself to send him to you in the hope that it would even the odds. No one but her knows the full scope of what she had planned for Angel. She charged Whistler to locate him and explain the situation. When Angel agreed to get involved, Morghane revealed herself to him, trained him. That's when she told him about the bond. Then Angel left for Sunnydale and she disappeared for parts unknown."
Giles fell silent.
It looked like he didn't plan on pursuing his explanation any time soon.
They exchanged nervous glances, then Buffy spoke up.
"Giles?" she called softly. When she had his attention, she added, "Jenny?"
The Watcher sighed and took his glasses off to wipe them clean with his handkerchief. "Yes. Jenny." He spaced out for a minute, then seemed to come back to himself. "When Jenny made the decision to return Angel's soul the second time, she got in touch with the Guardian somehow. Morghane... Morghane said she couldn't come perform the incantation herself, but that she would help Jenny with the translation of the curse. And I guess she did." He lowered his eyes to the floor. "You know the rest."
They had no comments to make.
Because indeed, they knew.