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.
The mun for Giles will be taking December off.
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.
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?”
“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.”
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.
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.
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.”
“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.
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.
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.
"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.
Describe a chance encounter that changed your life
My life hasn’t really been one of chance encounters. It’s not as though I met a man in a pub who knew of a job going at the Watchers’ Council and would I be interested? My grandmother was a Watcher, then her son, and it was assumed I was next to join the “family firm”.
My life in general traveled in some well-worn middle-class grooves. The boarding school, the uni. I can’t say that meeting Ethan Rayne was a haphazard occurrence since we spent several years together in school. We could have scarcely avoided one another if we tried.
Running across a demon did change my life, but is it chance if you summoned it?
I wonder if the tracking of the Slayers in order to gather them and combat The First qualifies under the category. Most of us would never have met otherwise. And why else were these girls chosen to be Slayers but the operation of chance?
The girls that I collected certainly had their lives changed by an encounter with me, so maybe they should be answering this question. But of course, many of them are dead and can no longer ponder fate. For me to do it for them is presumptuous.
I can’t say I don’t do it, but only under the influence of several strong whiskies. And I try to recall all of their names. I can be quite maudlin under the influence.
Who was "the one that got away"?
Well, doing a survey of my life now, I would say they all have.
I am solitary and likely to remain so. My fault, no doubt.
I believe I could have built a life with Jenny. She had such warmth. I amused her. We approached thing so differently that I believe we could have been endlessly intrigued by each other. I’m sure if I should want to plunge myself into a melancholy mood I’d continue listing the things that would have made us happy to be together. But you must agree that it’s a pointless exercise. Jenny’s dead. The one that was ‘taken away’ I suppose you could fashion her.
Olivia got away. Several times. Evidentially, I had allure as a guitar-strumming troubadour but not as a man connected to some rather scary underworld beings. One can’t blame her. For her, it must have been as if, oh, I don’t know, thinking you’re going to a chamber music concert and ending front row center with Marilyn Manson.
There’s Ethan, of course. I’d like to think I thrust him away. Yet, he is the one who remains in my life. And there’s no truer confirmation of the perversity of fate than that, I’ve no doubt.
Close your eyes and think about what you've been missing in your life lately. It could be a person, pet, place, thing, occasion, feeling. Anything at all that you miss dearly.
If I close my eyes to think, I may just drop off to sleep. Yes, I’ve reached that age. So, fully alert and wide-eyed, I say I miss certainty.
I’ve noticed that as one ages, one becomes either more sure of things or less sure. I belong to the latter group.
I think children are traditionalist, very firm in their beliefs. It always comes as a shock to the young that other families are different than one’s own. It’s upsetting to realize that not everyone shares your religion or just as importantly, never butters their toast or watches television. Confronting these things in other people alters one’s world view. Upon reflection, it seems to me that your later outlook on certainty probably forms here. One is intrigued by differences or one isn’t. (Yes, that’s psychologically interesting. I’ll just make some notes to think about this later.)
---Giles opens a notebook, jots for several minutes. Then returns.----
And of course, all adolescents believe firmly that the world started when they arrived. Anything that went before is useless. Certainty is their armour against a confusing world. Later, they usually come to see things differently.
I studied at the Council long and hard in order to identify evil when I saw it. I could rattle off the history of demons, their characteristics, and I was particularly versed in the ways of dispatching them. It was all very clear.
Then I became a Watcher. It turned out to be a grayish-hued world. Long-lived vampires who were champions and killers. Girls made from energy. Slayers who never loved wisely. It was not so easily decided who would live and who would die. I have made decisions that I thought were for the best. And they have broken other people’s hearts. So were they?
Certainty is an illusion but it can also be a comfort.
[A fic done for a ficathon, but it fits in this view of Giles. The fic had to have Giles, angst, internal monologue, alcohol, Ireland.]Before
The funeral was small. ( Read more...Collapse )
Giles was on his way to see Ethan and he was thinking about his father.( Read more...Collapse )
[The mun is thinking of getting Giles out of the office and have him show a little of the Ripper in him. He probably will be interacting belovedchaos
, and they may be alternating updates on what's happening within the boundaries of the prompts of TM. That's the plan. It may change.] Write about an overheard remark or secret that you were not supposed to have heard
He looks at the gray sky, knowing that it’s liable to stay that color for another month. He complained mightily about California’s persistent sun and waxed poetic about the misty motherland. Now that he’s back he feels the romance of the image is decidedly threadbare.
He feels caged, shut up in a space too small. He’s head of a worldwide organization, yes, true. It’s also true the Council has about a twentieth of the resources it once did. The Slayers’ mission is world-wide and to keep it going he hasn’t been out this office for, well, he can’t remember when it hasn’t been a groove between his flat and this office.
He decides to do a little “walk about” in the building. See what everybody else is up to. He grabs a file off the desk and heads for the door. The file is to make him look purposeful; plus, he can plead the press of work if someone tries to corner him. He strides past his assistant who doesn’t even look up from her work. Andrew’s door is open but he’s not in the room. Giles heads for the training room.
Several girls are engaged in hand-to-hand. He slips into the room and watches for a while, admiring their energy and grace. He catches himself drifting from introspection about elegant ballets to something more earthy, pulls his thoughts away from the girls and leaves the gymnasium.
With a sigh, he resigns himself to fixing a cup of tea for himself in the caf, and going back to finish some paperwork. Pushing the door of the cafeteria slightly, he hears voices inside and hesitates. It’s Andrew and two or three of the Slayers. “Oh, no. I mean it. It’s totally true. Mr. Giles can absolutely kick demon ass. I’ve seen him.” Andrew is at his most emphatic.
There’s giggling now. “All right, if you say so, Andrew,” another voice says. Giles is certain from the tone that there’s eye-rolling involved. He steps back into the hallway, to return to his office.
Passing through the outer office again, he asks Miranda to bring his calendar in; he needs to free up some time. Something’s come up and he may have to go out of town.
It was one of those days
He sat at his desk with his mid-morning tea. He allowed himself a biscuit in the afternoon on occasion, but never before lunch.
The intercom buzzed. “Yes, Miranda?”
“There’s a man here.”
“Yes? And what does this man want?”
Another voice wafted through the machine. “Hello, Ripper.”
“Oh, god,” Giles said under his breath and then said, aloud, “It’s all right, Miranda. Let him in.”
When the door swung open and Ethan was standing there, looking a little tired but casting a sardonic glance around the room, Giles felt his heart jump just a little. “Nice digs, Rupert. Landed on your feet, as usual.”
“And you’ve managed to worm your way out of a tight corner. Again.”
“Yes. Fascinating story. Shall I tell you it? But first, let me take the chair you haven’t yet offered me.”
Giles made a small snorting sound. “I always trust you to take what your want without waiting for it to be offered.” Then thought, Christ, why do I always sound like Oscar Wilde when Ethan’s around.
Ethan put the small box he was carrying on the edge of the desk. He leaned back in the chair and draped one leg over the other. “Let’s see, the last time we met was in Sunnydale, wasn’t it? You had me carted off—illegally, I might add—for playing a prank on you.”
“I remember it as a near death experience.”
Ethan smiled and shook his head. “Overly dramatic. Anyway, to get back to me. I was transported to a sunny clime and stashed in a small cell to begin with. Surprising primitive. I mean, for Americans. I really think they didn’t know what to do with me, once they got me.”
Giles shifted in his seat, “Ethan...”
Ethan waved his interruption off. “They asked me questions, but I could tell their hearts weren’t in it. Prisoners and guards, we were just a forgotten cul-de-sac of officialdom. Well, you know me, I try to make myself agreeable. Soon I had a better cell and a little more freedom.”
Giles looked resigned. “This is going to take a while, isn’t it? Tea?” At Ethan’s nod of assent, he pushed a button and said, “Miranda, could we get another tea in here.” Giles threw a quick look at Ethan and continued, “No milk, one sugar. And some biscuits.” He addressed Ethan, “This doesn’t end in a daring escape, does it? Perhaps across ice floes?”
Ethan smiled at him and continued, “Hmmm, no. It was too tropical a location for that. Well, I’d gotten into a routine, just a little sunbathing, a little reading. I knew I was getting lazy, but I kept putting off deciding about how to get out. Then, as usual, fate decided things for me.”
A young, slim woman entered the room with Ethan’s tea just then, giving him a smile as she put it and the biscuits on the desk before him. “Thank you, my dear. Rupert is, I see, a lucky man.”
Giles said, “Thank you, Miranda. Please try to hold any calls for me. Tell everybody I’ll call them back.” She nodded and without saying anything, left the room.
Ethan took up where he left off. “Suddenly, the prison became a hive of activity. All the cells were filled. The number of soldiers dramatically multiplied. Very few of the prisoners spoke, or they claimed not to speak, English. I simply got turned out of the place. They needed the room and no one could remember quite why I was there.”
“This is Guantanamo you’re talking about, isn’t it?”
“Why, yes, Rupert, very perceptive. The military wanted to take me and dump me wherever the first plane out was going. I managed to wiggle a little shore leave, so to speak, out of them, and a later plane to going to Atlanta, and ticket back here to Mother England. For that, I’m to keep mum about my experiences, forever.”
“Ethan, you’re telling me. You’ve already broken your promise,” Giles found himself smiling in spite of himself.
“Oh, you don’t count. And look, to show you I hold no grudges, I brought you a pressie.” Ethan indicated the box he’d put on the desk. “Cigars. Cubans. My only luggage from the trip. Well, I had some rum, too, but I drank that. I turned you into a demon; you had me arrested; I bring you cigars. Everything, as the Americans say, is even-steven.”
“And, yet, why do I think there is something else?” Giles asked.
“Because you know me too well,” Ethan said, pleasantly. “I thought you could give me a job. Of sorts. Umm, what are they called?...an independent contractor.”
Giles sat upright in his chair. “My god, you never cease to surprise me. We try to bring order into the world, not spread chaos. Where in the hell would you fit in?”
Ethan drank the last of his tea and put down the cup. “You trade in information. I’m good at sussing things out. You pay me by the job. Really, is that so hard to understand? I’m a bit on my uppers, not that I’m blaming you for putting me out of circulation, but, I do think you owe a little something. Moreover, I can go where your goody patrol wouldn’t think of venturing. I daresay I’d be a considerable asset.”
“And what guarantee would we have that you wouldn’t sell us out at the first opportunity?”
Ethan gave Giles a serious look. “My word. That is, I would promise to inform you that I’ve stopped regarding you and your organization as my liege lord, before I began any mischief. I don’t see how I can be fairer than that.”
Giles looked at Ethan, as if judging the offer. Ethan went on, “As a sign of good faith, I can tell you of a group smuggling voodoo artifacts into southern Florida in preparation of raising a great many zombies. Quite well along in their plans, too. They hope to prey on tourists.”
Giles said, “Ethan...”
And that was the day Ethan Rayne came to work, on a day to day basis, for the Watchers' Council.
The mun has thoughts:
Loved Ethan passionately
Knows he would have spent the rest of his life with Jenny.
Is considered the expert in all things American in his local pub.
Watched Dr.Who mostly for Romana.
Believes his mother, though she never said this, blamed him for his father’s sudden and early death.
Daydreams about an island near Corfu where he once spent two weeks, mostly naked, when work bores him.
Tries to spend Christmas with Buffy and Dawn. At least one toast is always made to Joyce.
Always wanted to water ski.
Works with Andrew, who amuses him and is very competent, but whom he doesn’t completely trust.
Has a cat.
Lies about work overload when invited for a weekend in the country.
Never worked out why just the sight of Spike made him irritated.
Fears a stroke more than he fears dying.
Is glad he never had children.
Misses the family Mexican restaurant he used to go to in Sunnydale.
Quite likes emailing people.
Never wished sexual congress with any of the Scoobies.
Would have admired and been drawn to the man Wesley became.
Is a good plain cook and buys odd kitchen gadgets on impulse.
Reads stories about hard-boiled detectives, male and female, for pleasure and relaxation.
Is a dutiful rather than a giving man.
New Year's Reflection
Giles took his scotch, the good stuff he only drank to mark an occasion, over to his desk. He set the glass down on the small area clear of papers. He’d let things pile up, rather, over the Christmas holidays. Thankfully it was a slow time, even for demons. There was always a burst of black masses and some sacrifice rituals on Christmas day itself (the Watchers’ agents were on alert for those and even manage to stop one or two); otherwise it tended to be very low key. Now it was New Year’s Eve and in a day or two things would be busy again. Sighing, Giles sat down, to work through it all.
Even without the task before him, he would have been spending the evening quietly. He’d come to regard New Year’s Eve as very much ‘amateur night’. Forced hilarity, overindulgence by those unsuited or unused to it, the pressure to kiss at midnight. A sensible man avoided it, staying by the home fire with a good drink.
He spent some time on the stack of papers, checking reports, being astonished at proposed budgets, comparing graphs submitted by overseas offices. Finally he came to a single sheet of what he imagined would be called ‘fluorescent magenta’ paper, if one were to describe it. Undoubtedly it had come from the desk of his assistant, Andrew. Giles realized once again, ‘you can take the boy out of America, but you can’t take...’
It was one of Andrew’s ‘communiqués to the staff’ or ‘morale boosters’ or ‘tips from the top’. Giles forgot which term Andrew was using at present. How it got mixed up in his work papers he couldn’t imagine. He must have been paying even less attention to things than he thought.
This newsletter’s theme was, of course, the new year. Rededication was stressed; gratitude for good fortune; letting go of old slights and worries. Giles, in glancing over it, even saw the term ‘clean slate’ used. It was amazing to Giles, that even though Andrew did a tremendous amount at the office, he still found time to churn out these things. He put the flyer aside.
Giles found it best not to dwell. On the past, or the future. Especially on the artificially significant time like New Year’s Eve. The days of life are long, but the years are short. He knew he wasn’t the only older person to have made that observation. Best just to get through the paperwork and let life unfold as it will.
What is the greatest sacrifice you have made for love?
There was the time I saved two month’s worth of pocket money to buy my mother a bottle of scent for Christmas. She was so grateful. I wanted her to wear it always, but she said it must be saved for very, very special occasions. Poor woman. She put it on her handkerchief that day and perhaps that is the greatest sacrifice she ever made for love.
I spent a bemused evening inhaling gas fumes and trying to understand the American character when Jenny dragged me to spend an evening in an arena full of big motor vehicles. That is a sacrifice I’d be glad to make again, if she were still here to insist we go.
I’ve made many sacrifices for what I regard as my duty. I don’t regret them, but they weren’t for love. Considering it, I have to admit that love has always come second. Perhaps I told myself that when the time was right, I would give equal time to my personal life that I had given to the Watchers’ Council. But I’ve come to realize that one does what one is comfortable with.
Or perhaps, I remember the one sacrifice I did make and don’t know if I can do it again.
Once I was entwined in someone’s life. I felt less than myself when he wasn’t at my side. I could walk into a room and sense if he were there, whether I could see him or not. I didn’t think in terms of forever; I don’t think many young men do, but I thought he was as necessary to me as oxygen.
Then I left him. I sacrificed everything for love. I loved myself more than him. I loved my soul and staying with him, I knew I would lose it.
Of course, with the years, I not only knew I made the right decision, I began to feel that way, too. But there were too many desolate hours until I reached that stage. And I never allowed anyone to mean that much to me again.
Until Jenny. She made me feel as though I walked out of a dark room into the sunlight. Sadly, it was only a short time we had together. There’s not much more I’m comfortable in saying about it.
But life has taught there are days to be filled and that my work is something the world needs to have done. I’m lucky to have it.