We were getting off the topic of Rose, but I had to ask, “So where were you born, really?”
“I wasn’t born.”
“Okay, jackass. So when did you remember coming into existence? You must have had parents…”
He shook his head. “No parents. I just woke up one day in Louisiana, in a small apartment in Baton Rouge, in almost the same body I have right now. I knew who I was, what my purpose was, and I took it from there. It sounds crazy, and now that I know your world, it is crazy. But that’s the only way I can explain it. Whoever I was before, I don’t know. How long has this body been around? I don’t know that either. But I do know I will die one day and this body will die with me. That’s the one thing that hasn’t changed.”
This was just too fucking weird. Fucked up sprinkles on a slice of psycho shit cake. “Back to Rose…”
He cringed. “I tried to ignore Rose for as long as I could. After I left you, I went around the USA exploring for a bit. It was amazing, to just be living and not have any duties. I started to think that if I was forsaken or forgotten, that it would be okay. I’d be happy with that. I could live a free life like everyone else. But then the images started coming. I’d see Rose in my dreams, and hoooo-boy, I’d see her whole life flash before my eyes. Her as a young girl working on a farm, dancing with boys at high school parties, serving people at a bar. Then I started seeing the images in broad daylight, over and over again, and the Veil started ripping open and I knew that if I just walked through it, I’d be right there with her. That I had to show her the gifts she had, the gifts I could sense were starting to manifest. She had been seeing demons in the dark, things out of the corners of her eyes. Sometimes she’d be staring at a spot right before her, and I could see that demon as it made its way through the Veil and right to her feet. She knew something wasn’t right, but she couldn’t really see it. If only she knew what she could do to drive the demon back into the Veil. But she didn’t. I had to teach her that.”
“It travels between both worlds, from the Kalunga to here, through the layers, through the Veil, just like me,” I said absently.
“What my mother said to me, about the snake she called Li Grand Zombi.”
He nodded. “Some things get through. And some people, like Rose, they have the ability to put them back.”
“And now we’re getting dangerously close to Buffy the Vampire Slayer territory,” I said.
His lips jerked up in a quick smile. “Not quite. For one, we’re missing a Giles.”
“I guess you could be Giles now. You’re getting old.”
He glared at me. “I am. But it’s still not funny.”
“Back to Rose…”
“Back to Rose. So one day I just bit the bullet and stepped through, right into Nameless. I introduced myself to her and asked if they needed help. The universe makes things happen for us. I knew I’d get the job, like I’ve gotten most jobs.”
“Like you did with Jimmy,” I mused miserably.
“No, that was just good old-fashioned bribery,” he admitted sheepishly. “I’m no longer a Jacob. I may have some supernatural….uh, aftertaste…but the rules don’t apply to me anymore. I have to make things happen. The universe screws me over like it screws over everyone else.” He sighed, sensing I was going to ask him to continue. “So I got the job and I began working with Rose, hoping she’d be a lot easier than you. And she was, at first. I reckon she almost knew I was coming, the way she just accepted things. I was working with her for at least a year before I got her tipsy one night and told her the truth. I took her to the Veil once, knowing she’d have more strength when she got back.”
“Physical?” I asked, thinking about my own strength after I was sent in.
“A little bit physical, but mainly mental. When she came back out, she could see everything. It opened her mind. I helped her use that power to start sending demons back through when she saw them. She was able to. It takes a lot of thought and concentration from her but she can do it. Maybe not all the demons, but the ones she sees herself. Rose wasn’t born here to save the world. She’s just a helper, like so many others.”
“Like me?” I asked.
“Dex, I didn’t know what you were then and I still don’t really know now.”
“Some Giles you are,” I grumbled. I stubbed the cigarette on a bunch of change that had scattered across the bedside table. “But let’s get down to what really happened. As fascinating as all this stuff is, it’s still way over my head, and I don’t think I’d even really understand this new…fucked up world…even if you drilled it into me day after day. So let’s get to the thing you don’t want to talk about. Let’s talk about Rose. Why you left her. And when you became immortal.” I was tempted to put air quotes around “immortal” but I knew all this shit actually was real.
He rubbed at his jaw, his stubble making a scratchy noise on his calloused fingers. “After Rose began to get the hang of things, I started getting flashes of someone else’s life. Another girl. Young. But I didn’t want to go. I’d fallen in love with Rose. We lived together. We spent all our time together. But the images wouldn’t stop. I finally started seeing Mambo Maryse, hoping she could explain what was going on and what I could do about it. She said short of going rogue, there was nothing I could do. It was my duty and I had to move on.
Of course, I couldn’t accept that. I couldn’t just leave Rose, I loved Rose. I mean I loved her, Dex. More than anything in this world. You know what that’s like.”
I felt like my soul was being sliced open, piece by piece. I swallowed thickly and nodded.