Title: Midnight Angel
Authors: Isis FG
Started: October 5, 2003
Completed: ?

Feedback: not mine, I'm just using them for my amusement.

Rating: R
Pairing: B/A (major), also W/S, Gi/Jo...maybe some others
Summary: total AU - Angel moves to small town Sunnydale, never expecting to find himself embroiled in its dark secrets.
Main Characters: Angel, Buffy, Giles, Willow, Spike, Xander
Supporting Cast: Fred, Gunn, Faith and probably some others
Spoilers: none whatsoever, this is a total AU

Distribution: if you already have something of mine, you may take this. If not, please ask first!

Author's Notes: Initially, Stars and I were going to co-write this fic, but due to RL interference, we couldn't coordinate our schedules. So this has just been written by me, but I have to give some credit to Stars because we developed some of the details of this fic together. Anyway, I first started this ages ago, and am only now getting around to focusing on it completely. It's quite plot heavy and somewhat dark (though not overly descriptive). Hope you all enjoy it!

Warnings: dark themes (murder, references to rape), angst, language

Prologue

Sunnydale, year 2000

Fingers tapping impatiently on the side of his briefcase, Rupert Giles shifted on his feet, waiting for what seemed to be endless minutes for the elevator to reach his floor. The damned machine seemed to take longer and longer each day. That was untrue, of course. He was just anxious to get home to his family. Despite having been married for twenty-five years, since he was a youthful twenty-six, he still reveled at the notion of going home to his wife and children. They were, in the easiest of terms, his very life.

The bell of the elevator finally dinged and Rupert, or Giles as he was commonly called, entered quickly. He stood straight in the compartment, always one for proper posture and presentation. And it certainly wouldn't do for one of his position to look as if he were slacking. The car stopped briefly at the next floor, allowing a young man to enter. If he was remembering correctly, the boy was one of the new copy editors, fresh out of college. They spoke quietly as the elevator continued down to the parking garage.

They parted after exiting, Giles telling him to have a good weekend. He strode quickly to his car, a shiny red convertible BMW that his wife jokingly called his mid-life crisis to which he had earnestly replied that it had simply been time for a new car as his old economical sedan had been requiring regular maintenance. It wasn't as if he couldn't afford a minor luxury. As the owner of a small, yet well respected, magazine that focused on history and culture, he generated enough profit to live comfortably. But not yet enough to move his family out of Sunnydale. That idle thought gave him pause, but he quickly pushed it aside. Soon, he told himself. Another year or two.

Giles dropped his briefcase into the back seat of his car and slid into the driver's seat. After starting the engine, he glanced at his watch and groaned. It was after seven p.m. He was supposed to have been home over two hours ago. That was one of the pitfalls of owning a business, he supposed. Less than twenty-four hours before the latest issue of his magazine was to go to print, one of the advertisers, an unfortunate but necessary evil in his mind, had threatened to pull their ads. Resolving the matter had taken an hour and a half long conference call where he'd had to summon every ounce of diplomacy in him, something he possessed normally with abundance. Thankfully, they'd ironed out the problems and now he could finally go home.

Temper already heady, he cursed audibly at the slow-driving station wagon in front of him. Why did there always seem to be a Sunday driver in front of you when you needed to get somewhere? One of those mysteries of life. All he wanted was to get home. It was movie night with his family, a tradition he cherished and looked forward to. Thirty years ago, during his embarrassing rebellious youth, he would have laughed at the image he now presented. Being a dutiful husband and father had not been his vision of the future then. But now, his family, their happiness, and his business were all he needed in his life.

Out of the corner of his eye, he caught sight of the local high school as he passed it. A shiver inched down his spine, memories leapt into his mind. He fervently pushed them aside, wishing they didn't exit. But they did, and he would never be able to forget. Things like that could never be forgotten, or the suffering that had coincided. It was all still part of him, and his family. And that was all the more reason to get home quickly.

Giles slowed his speed as he turned onto Main Street. The very last thing he needed was to be pulled over by the police, so he tread carefully down the busy street. Stopping at a red light, he felt the hairs on the back of his neck prickle. He didn't need to gaze around to know that more than one pair of nosey eyes were directed at him. It was always the same. Sighing inwardly, he wondered why after three years they still stared and why he had yet to get used to it. But then, being a town pariah was not something one could particularly get used to.

Blatantly ignoring their hushed voices and heated gazes, he proceeded through the intersection once the light turned green. Small towns had long memories, as he well knew, and this one was no exception. As much as he wanted to say that their words and stares didn't bother him, he couldn't. Not when they caused so much damage to his family. He should have moved them to Los Angeles years ago. It would have saved them a lot of pain and misery, but his responsibilities to the magazine, and the financial burden of moving, prevented it. Again, he told himself, soon. Then everything would be better.

Reaching the end of the main strip of town, he turned left and headed toward the outskirts of Sunnydale, California, the small, seemingly picturesque town that twenty-seven years ago he'd found himself settling in. Back then, he hadn't exactly been thrilled with the move, but the opportunity to be a historical consultant at the magazine he now owned had been too much to pass up. The move had worked out, though, as not long after arriving, he'd met Joyce Summers when he'd visited the art gallery she'd worked in. A short four months later, they were married, and he'd never once regretted it. Still, he found himself glad that his family's home was several miles outside of town and away from prying eyes. It was better for them that way.

With a sigh of gratitude, Giles turned into the long drive that led up to his home. The setting sun glared through his windshield as he drove through the scattered trees. He rounded the final bend and came to a stop to the left of the front door. Stepping out of the car, he glanced up at the house. It was rather large, made from local wood and stone, with two full stories and a third floor with pitched ceilings. The perfect family home.

A vivid memory of the many times his children, still young and silly, rushing out the door to greet him played in his mind. They had always loved to practically jump on him when he returned home from work. The small smile was fleeting, replaced by an uneasy frown. The entire house was dark. Unusually so. From his stance in front, he couldn't see a single light gleaming through the polished windows. Strange, he thought. Joyce would have left the lights on for him.

Quickening his steps, and fighting off a ridiculous sense of unease, he strode to the front door and entered the house. Utter silence slapped at him. No laughs, no chatter, no playful arguments. Nothing. He groped for the light switch, flipping it to illuminate the room. Everything seemed normal in the now lit room, except for the suffocating silence. The unease wound tighter. There was usually always someone there to greet him.

"Joyce?" he called out into the quiet house, his own voice startling him.

No answer came. With hurried steps, Giles made his way into the kitchen. He was met by yet another darkened, quiet room. Flipping on the overhead light, he glanced toward the refrigerator, expecting, as was typical if they'd gone out, to find a note saying that they'd gone out for ice cream or some such thing and would be back soon, but instead there was only blank stainless steel.

Growing increasingly worried, he paced quickly through the house, "Joyce? Owen?" he called out to his wife and son.

Again, no one answered. Checking his study and the parlor, he found them also dark and empty. His concern was growing by the second. This was not typical behavior for his family. And he was certain they couldn't have gone out without leaving a note. He supposed they could be angry that work had held him late, but he knew better. They understood the constraints of owning a business.

Relief coursed through him when he saw soft light emanating from beneath the door to the family room. He walked quickly toward it, already anxious to settle down with his wife and children for a night of whatever movies they'd picked out. He could hear the TV blaring through the closed door and shook his head. Dawn, his youngest, had a tendency to turn the thing up ridiculously loud. They probably hadn't even heard him come home.

Grabbing the knob, he turned it and pushed the door open. "Joyce? Childr-."

The word choked in his throat, his body came to an abrupt halt. The briefcase he'd carried with him dropped heedlessly to the floor. Bile rose in his throat as he staggered back a step.

Red, deep dark pools of it, swam across his vision, churning his stomach and horrifying him. He blinked, trying to push what he was seeing away. But it was still there. Red swimming through red.

Blood. Everywhere.

And in the middle, the still, lifeless forms of those he loved dearly.

"Oh God!" he choked out in a meager whisper.

Time froze. His vision wavered. Past, present, and future tumbled together and shattered in a vicious explosion in his mind as he stared, unable to move, at the horrible tableau before him. His children, his wonderful, darling children, forever frozen as they lay on the floor, violent wounds marring their youthful faces and bodies. And, there, only a few feet from him, drenched in a pool of deep red, lay his precious wife, her lifeless eyes staring aimlessly at the ceiling.

"No!" he barely managed to whisper before he fell to his knees, heavy sobs shaking his body, as he knew deep in his heart that it was already too late, that there was nothing he could do. Everything he loved was gone.

TBC