september

(no subject)

What song best describes your life?

Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day
You fritter and waste the hours in an off hand way
Kicking around on a piece of ground in your home town
Waiting for someone or something to show you the way


Giles sat behind his desk, his littered, paper-strewn, work-overburdened desk and listened to the music. It was thoughtful of Andrew, taking the old albums and putting them on to cds through some computer wizardry, so Giles could enjoy them in the office. It was like having old friends to visit. He wondered if his assistant would, in his later years, feel the same way about the music he was listening to now. Would Andrew wax nostalgic for Christine Aguiwhatever? Probably not, but again Giles thought maybe that was just the cranky old man in him railing about things now not being as good as when he was young. He smiled as he had a vision of himself tucked into a warm corner of a pub flourishing a cane as in his declining years he defended “Pink Floyd” as “real” music. He hoped it wouldn’t come to that.

Tired of lying in the sunshine staying home to watch the rain
You are young and life is long and there is time to kill today
And then one day you find ten years have got behind you
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun


“Ten years”, make that twenty or thirty. Where had it gone? Well, he was alive. Some he had shared this music with weren’t. Best not to dwell. He remembered the day he bought this album. It was a revelation. He must have played it over and over. It’s a wonder the grooves weren’t worn through. Oh god, that’s right, he had played it so often that Ethan had smashed “the bloody thing” one drunken night. And bought him another later to apologize. Well, best not to dwell on that, either.

And you run and you run to catch up with the sun, but it’s sinking
And racing around to come up behind you again
The sun is the same in the relative way, but you’re older
Shorter of breath and one day closer to death


The young romanticized death. They have no real concept of finality, do they? Giles thought the very last thing a man of his age wanted to acknowledge was the “one day closer to death” sentiment. This, perhaps, was a drawback in revisiting the old songs.

Every year is getting shorter, never seem to find the time
Plans that either come to naught or half a page of scribbled lines
Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way
The time is gone, the song is over, thought I’d something more to say


Giles looked out the window at the winter afternoon, so early fading into winter dark. The time is gone and he should pull up his socks in “the English way” and clear up some of the paperwork before him.

Home, home again
I like to be here when I can
And when I come home cold and tired
It’s good to warm my bones beside the fire
Far away across the field
The tolling of the iron bell
Calls the faithful to their knees
To hear the softly spoken magic spells.


He thought he’d have rather a large whisky before dinner tonight.
librarian

(no subject)

Road Trip

That’s a particularly American concept, isn’t it? The roadtrip. Such an immense land mass spread before one. That’s probably one of the reasons American cinema was so popular in Europe, the lure of the open road. Certainly, there was nothing like that when I was growing up. We traveled, for the most part, by train.

I have made some roadtrips on the North American continent. I took Olivia about rather aimlessly when she visited. We went to the desert, something she wanted to see. Rather different than London, or indeed, anything in the UK. I think she found the empty spaces and lack of discernible life rather oppressive. She’s very much the city dweller.

Perhaps my return trip to the same region with Buffy could be classified as a “roadtrip”. We spend some hours in the automobile together, I, trying to impart some Watcher wisdom; she, for once, rather grave and silent. Of course, we missed the requisite eating at dubious-looking roadside dinner; hunger being a necessary requirement to a vision quest.

After the destruction of Sunnydale, I took a roundabout return to England. So many cobwebs to clear out of my mind, so many decisions about what I should do next. There were many dubious “eateries” on that trip. I should write about that sometime.
librarian

(no subject)

Summer

Giles swung the door open. “I thought you would come.”

“I had to see it...the grave. Willow told me where you buried her.”

Giles sighed and said, “Do you want a drink? I’m finding it helps. A drink. Or drinks.” He turned back into his apartment, leaving Angel to follow him and shut the door.

“I’ll fetch a glass. Sit.”

Angel sank down onto the couch. He accepted the tumbler, half filled with whiskey, which Giles offered to him and took a healthy swallow of it. Giles said, “I made it a triple, saves having to keep filling it.”

“Yeah, thanks. I noticed.” Angel took a long assessing look at Giles. “You look tired.”

Giles sat down so heavily the chair’s springs squeaked beneath him. “Well, I am.” They sat quietly for a moment, then Giles said, “Do you want to hear about it?”

“No. Willow told me everything I need to know.”

“Yes, I see that. The fact of death is the only important thing. And you’ve seen so much of it. Caused so much of it. Like Jenny. I’m getting more used to death. Watching it. Causing it.”

Angel put his unfinished drink on the coffee table. “Maybe I should...”

“No, don’t go. Sorry, I’ve let my tongue run away with me. We’re just two old men steeped in mourning. I’m glad you’ve come.”

They sat silent for a few minutes, each locked in his own memories. Then Giles burst out with, “She loved you fiercely, you know, but that’s how she did most things.”

“Yes, I could see that in her the first time I saw her.” Angel’s shoulders slumped. “Maybe if I’d known how little time she had, I’d have stayed. Maybe I should have stayed. But, she was so good...I thought she’d have a full life, I mean, a long one.”

Giles said quietly, “It’s not as though she were defeated, is it? She gave her life away; they didn’t take it.”

“She saved her sister. It was to save her sister.”

Giles had a slight smile on his face. “You remember Dawn?”

“Of course. I remember when she got taller than Buffy; she was so mad.” Angel took another long drink of his whiskey.

“Willow didn’t tell you?”

“What?”

“It’s an illusion. She wasn’t there. Monks made Dawn up. They knew the Slayer would protect her. Dawn’s just another burden Buffy took on. Buffy saw Dawn as family.”

“Fierce. Like you said, she was fierce when she made up her mind.”

Giles pushed himself up from the chair and got a fresh bottle from a cabinet, breaking the seal and putting on the coffee table.

“Fooling about with memories. Not sporting, is it?” Giles laughed. “Amazing how being drunk makes me speak like Colonel Blimp, isn’t it? Not sporting!”

Angel ran his hand over his face. “Not fair, no.”

The two mourners drank and talked of Buffy for hours. Angel sensed the sunrise coming and made some gestures toward leaving, but Giles told him to stay and sleep the day away on the couch. “Unless you’re in a hurry to go back?” he asked.

“No, no hurry.”

“Strangely enough,” said Giles, “you won’t be my first vampire guest. There’s blood in the refrigerator. This is Liberty Hall for vampires.” Giles giggled as he stumbled up the steps to his bed.

It was too late for Angel to leave safely. The sun would be over the horizon in just minutes. And he was exhausted. He made himself comfortable on the couch and slept.

It was late afternoon when they both woke. Giles looked even more tired than he had the night before. He made coffee while Angel showered, drank two cups and felt more awake but not much better. He decided to call Xander and the others for patrolling tonight. He needed an impetus to get out of the house.

As twilight fell and Angel was preparing to go, Giles said, “Are you returning to Los Angeles? I understand you’ve settled in quite well there.”

Angel didn’t say anything for a moment. “No, I’m going away for a while. Someplace quiet. Sometimes it’s hard to think in LA.” His voice trailed off. “You?”

“How I spent my summer vacation, you mean? Everything is at sixes and sevens. We’re patrolling. I have no urgent need to see the Council again. I’m still needed here for a while. I really haven’t thought much beyond each day.”

“I should be going,” Angel said. “Thanks for the whiskey and the couch.”

“Yes. It was good to share it with someone. With you.” Giles put out his hand. “Goodbye.”

Angel shook Giles’ hand and turned to go. Giles walked him to the door, and watched broad-shouldered figure disappear into the night. “Good luck,” thought Giles, “good luck to us all.”
librarian

(no subject)

Revenge

I started to write something scholarly about the subject. Something using the third person and a good deal of distancing language. Perhaps I would have even gotten to the point where I tsk-tsked and pointed a wordy finger at the base emotions that want revenge. But I had to stop before I drowned in hypocrisy.

I failed at revenge. I wanted it and meant to take it, but failed. I wasn’t quick enough or strong enough and I nearly got Buffy killed. Angelus killed Jenny and I wanted to kill him. I waded in, all righteous anger, all white-hot hatred. It was insane, but then, so was I. I only wanted to stop the pain I was feeling, and I neglected strategic planning.

Since I didn’t incinerate Angelus, he had the opportunity to torture me at a later date. Death and the near occasion of mayhem. Isn’t that enough to plot revenge on the offender? Apparently not, for me. When I again faced Angel, I invited him over my threshold.

I can’t hold on to revenge as a motivation. I’m a berserker but not a Titus. That’s interesting to know about oneself. But that mad dash into revenge opened up something in me that I long had buried for fear it would overwhelm me. As I was older now, I came more to terms with it, my anger. I can use it now, not deny its existence.

Maybe that was another gift Jenny gave me.
librarian

(no subject)

Human Nature

The train had stopped. The lights flickered once but stayed on. Everyone in the car was calm and after a minute or two an announcement was made over the public address system. Giles wasn’t sure what was being said. The male voice sounded young and as though the announcer were moving to and fro in front of whatever he was speaking into. The upshot was, this particular Underground train wasn’t going anywhere for a while.

Well, as long as nothing was exploding about him, Giles saw no reason to become agitated. He was, however, irritated, mostly with himself. He’d nothing to read. To be correct, nothing he wanted to read. There was a detailed report positing that the threatened melting of the polar ice caps also threatened to release a demon or two that the world hadn’t seen since the ice age. He’d rather not get into it right now. Giles also had with him a novel that he’d already dipped into. He was loath to go any further with it. It purported to be a “thrill ride” of a spy novel. But it wasn’t.

He decided to make a list. With pen and paper. If he did it in his head as he did sometimes trying to fall asleep, he might nod off in this stuffy car. What should be his subject? Movies he wants to see before he dies? Movies he wishes he’d never seen? Beaches he’d like to lie on? He glanced around at the motley group brought together on the stalled public transport. He decided to list things that puzzled him about human nature.

1. Why do we not appreciate the things we have now? Why do we always look to what we used to have or will have?

2. Why are we ready to indulge the behavior of our own children but not that of others?

3. Why don’t we realize that tattoos will sag with the skin they are on and that it hurts like bloody hell to have them removed?

4. Why are we always surprised when things turn out badly? Do we honestly think that our lives will be without trouble during our whole existence?

5. Why don’t we all look in a full length mirror before we go out?

He thought briefly about religion but decided that was too much of an irritant to dwell on in these circumstances.

6. Why do we misdirect our anger so often? Why does it sometime take so long to understand what we’re angry about?

7. Why do some people think what Britney Spears does is singing?

The Tube car gave a lurch and started slowly forward. A collective sigh seemed to come from its occupants. Giles put away his pen and notebook. He decided he wouldn’t be using this topic to lull himself to sleep; it really was too exasperating. And he never got to saying anything about demons.
librarian

(no subject)

Spirit

When I first arrived at Sunnydale High I think the principal, Mr. Flutie, was nonplussed. We had a rather strained first interview.

“Mr. Giles,” he said, “Mr. Giles, Rupert, if I may. I’m not quite sure what you’re doing here.”

“Well, I’m to be the librarian. I believe that’s the position for which I was hired. Is there some problem?” I answered.

“The problem is, the essence of the thing is, the thing is, we’ve never had a librarian. Not full time. Now, suddenly, there’s a mysterious grant. A sudden infusion of money for a great many more books and we have you, a librarian. A lot of odd things happen in this town,” and here Mr. Flutie stared intently at me, “but not many of them...ummm...beneficial.”

“Really?” I said, “How interesting.”

“But I’m not one to look a gift horse, etc., if you get what I mean. I welcome you. Anything that makes the school a better place for the kids. We’re all, all about expanding opportunities. Broadening horizons.” And here he looked at me in what I thought was a speculative way. “There are a few things...”

“Yes?” Cautiously. It was obvious to me that this man, pleasant as he seemed to be, was not a confidante of the Watchers’ Council.

“Well, the last librarian, she had very little to do. So she helped out here and there. Helping the children cultivate a sense of belonging, here, in this, what can be this, overwhelming experience. You know, a community-building enhancement...”

I must have looked totally uncomprehending at this point.

He said, “She coached the Spirit Squad.”

“I’m sorry?”

“The Spirit Squad. It a group of kids who get together and practice, that is learn cheers. Then they show up at all the team games, do cheers, keep the enthusiasm up. They, the Spirit Squad, wear uniforms. These are really hard-working kids. So, do you think this is something you’d be interested in? Coaching?”

“I...I,” I must admit I stammered somewhat here, “I’ve no doubt that I have no talent or interest in that direction.” He looked so crestfallen that I tried to lighten my refusal. “The chess club, perhaps. I could lend some help there, a mentor if you will, if you need it.”

He looked startled and began rifling through some sheets of paper. “Yes, yes, we do have one,” he read from one of the papers. “It says here they even compete in tourneys with other schools. Huh!”

“Not accompanied by the Spirit Squad?” I tried to keep my voice noncommittal.

“No, afraid not. The tourneys really don’t draw much a crowd to get stirred up.” He looked at me as if he thought I would now withdraw my offer of help.

“Still,” I said, “if it would be of benefit to the school, I’d be glad to be an advisor.”

“Excellent, excellent. I think you’re going to fit in here just fine. All those books, and now the chess. Excellent.” Mr. Flutie rose and I did, too. We exchanged a hearty handshake. “Welcome aboard!” he said.

I tell this story because it was my first encounter with the phenomenon of American ‘school spirit’. If I had thought of it before (and I don’t think I had) I imagine I would have supposed that the term meant ‘cheerleaders’, those staples of American cinema, both legitimate and of the bluer variety.

But it was really so much more. It seemed to me, an inhabitant from a less expressive background, that to be part of this encompassing mood-altering machinery, the Spirit Squad, was as important here as any actual gaining of knowledge was in this school. Rallies were held almost every day in the quad. The squad members walked as gods among the populace of the school. I was quite overwhelmed.

When my Slayer insisted on joining this band of merrymakers, I accused her of wanting join a cult. Perhaps I was overreacting. If I did, I apologize. But I was a stranger in a strange land. It was frightening.

You have no idea.
librarian

(no subject)

Inheritance

There’s a nice cottage in Cornwall I got from my grandmother. I used to spend a great many of my holidays from school there with her. I inherited the cottage and an expectation. She was a Watcher. As was her son, my father. I wonder if they both felt as chosen as Slayers do. Felt that picking up the burden of protecting the innocent was inevitable. Hmm, that is the kind of question one does not think to ask one’s family until one is so old that they are no longer here to answer. Or were they as conflicted about it as I was? They certainly didn’t seem so to me when I was growing up.

Many Watchers come from just such families. It becomes tradition. But unlike, say, royalty, more than just birth is involved. There’s extensive learning and sacrifice of time and leisure involved. So, unlike royalty, the more unsuited are weeded out.

It occurs to me that may be why I’ve always been rather glad I had no children of my own. I don’t know if I’d be strong enough to resist laying this burden on them.

On a lighter note, I also seem to have inherited Andrew Wells.
librarian

(no subject)

If...

If I were allergic to wool, what would my wardrobe look like? Would a Watcher be an authority figure if he were clad in cotton jeans and a tee shirt? Searching my memory it seems I did appear before Buffy wearing just that outfit, and as I remember, it engendered a distinct lack of respect.

You, no doubt, were looking for some more profound, or at least more introspective, musings. Well, things would have been different if...well, any number of things. Looking at the past through an “if” perspective is worse than useless; it can poison your present.

One must be cautious using “if” even for the future. An experienced person knows “if” they do a certain action it will lead to a likely result. Perhaps they’ve been down that path before. Love, falling in love, is the example that springs to mind. Who has not had love end in heartbreak, of one sort or the other? It may seem to be wise to make that sorrow outweigh any happiness, to say “if I allow myself to love this person, it will end badly”. But is life about wisdom, or involvement?

Better to save your “ifs” for more mundane matters, such as, if I drink coffee after eight in the evening, I shalln’t be able to sleep.
september

(no subject)

"When I awoke the next morning..."

it was much like any other day. Some people who had been alive the day before no longer were. The only difference in this case was that I knew, loved one of them.

I’d stood beside Buffy’s grave some short months after I started as her Watcher. That was a spell, or a delusion. I didn’t have to wake up the next morning and face her death again. But Jenny didn’t come back; she wasn’t a Slayer. So for quite some time after Angelus snapped her neck, each morning, just after waking there would come that moment that my brain would register, yes, Jenny is still dead.

Many people have had to face that unhappy (despairing? anguished? crucifying?) realization about a loved one but until one faces it oneself...well...one doesn’t understand the sorrow at all.

Then, eventually, comes the day when that isn’t your first thought. You might not think it for an hour or two. It becomes your history. The person becomes less alive, less a person and more an incident in your life, something that happened to you. Because you’re still alive, you see. It’s a normal, natural and no doubt necessary phenomenon that happens so that civilization can go on. It’s also like having her die again. She becomes a soft-edged, romantic memory. Not like the contradictory, surprising, provocative, laughing woman she was. So, I destroyed the photos I had; should anyone mention her I change the subject or leave.

I won’t have it. I don’t want her to be less than she was.

I refuse to think of her, to remember her; that’s the very least I owe her.