Part 4. Don't Cry For Me
He turned up the morning of the Ireland match.
We were getting ready for another lunch down the pub. Open green shirts over the top of the England kit. Well since most of the players are about as Irish as Spike and me you just have to do it. Besides, support for the Anglo-Irish peace process and all that. Needs all the help it can get, and the Irish blokes in the pub on Saturday were supporting us, so it's only fair really.
I say we were getting ready - Spike and me were; Willow was having one of her 'I'm not getting out of bed' mornings. I let her sleep through the early Sweden match, even if she's not safe to leave alone in the house - for herself, or anyone else. I'm not blind. I might need glasses, but you try all that reading and see if you still have 20/20 vision. I've seen her looking at potential weapons.
I thought giving her some space might help - it didn't. Nothing helps. Nothing I do. Nothing my cousin does. Nothing even Spike tries. He's surprised me. But then he always has…for good or bad. Suppose the good times are why I let him in…again.
The state he was in when he arrived on the doorstep I'm surprised he's not gone sunbathing. Not that we've had huge amounts of sun recently, but it's out there. The fact that he tried to help Willow, even when he was clearly in anguish himself, only continued to surprise and please me. I shouldn't be surprised though. Not after seeing him with Dawn last summer, trying to help her cope despite the pain and grief I never expected, and was trained not to believe possible, in a soulless thing.
I honestly thought Willow could do this. The girl I met in the old Library, so long ago it seems now, would. But then she wouldn't have enjoyed torturing me, or that bastard Warren. She loved small furry animals and feared frogs. She didn't take pleasure in killing. She certainly wouldn't have tried to destroy the planet. And for all Xander and Buffy's attempt to rationalise that it wasn't her fault, it was. I know they need to think that, to keep their image of Willow as she was. I've been in her shoes. I…well Ethan and me raised demons for fun. We're responsible for the death of a good mate. We were out of our heads when we did it, but we're no less guilty - so's she.
I thought I could explain this; that she'd know somebody in the World understood, and we could go on from there. I couldn't leave her in Sunndydale. She'd only backslide, and find some way of removing the choker binding her powers. Xander, much as I'm fond of the lad, is certainly thick enough to do help her do it.
Besides the best source of help for her is here. It worked for me a while back. It's working for Spike, combined with his natural Tigger tendencies. God only knows, if I'd known the pills worked on Spike I'd have had him medicated years ago. Soul or no soul he's a dammed sight easier to live with when he's on a more equitable footing.
If she wanted to, and actually tried, I know it'd work for her. My cousin's good, but he was only allowed not to be a watcher when it became clear that a shrink could be useful to the Council. With all the mental and physical stress we can go through most of our doctors, of both sorts, are from watcher bloodlines. Their kids are still likely to get forced into the family business though. There's not much choice in life for some of us. And Buffy always accused me of not understanding being 'chosen' and having an inescapable destiny. Why do you think I never got married or had kids? Think I'd want to put them through this?
Anyway, Spike and me were ready for a Guinness based lunch. Well you have to get in the mood, when watching boys in green with mostly English accents. It's compulsory really, and lunchtime is a bit early for Bushmills. Willow had finally got out of her dressing gown and put on a black on black wardrobe which is always a worrying sign. I checked the fireplace for plants. I know she shouldn't be able to do spells with the binding choker on, but I'm not one of the older surviving field watchers for nothing: continued head injury motif notwithstanding.
Then the doorbell rang.
I haven't been able to have any visitors since Willow and I got here. Then when Spike descended on me that completely ruled it out. You try explaining why all the curtains are drawn on a summer day; and why the crying and wailing heap on the sofa has a mug full of untouched clotted blood on the coffee table.
I had an invitation from some old friends to watch the Jubilee fireworks from the roof of a nearby mansion block and had to say no. Willow might have jumped, or pushed me, or Spike, over the edge at an unattended moment. Even worse she's got a taste for blood now; she might have taken an innocent just to break the tedium.
I've been reading the books that form Spike and Willow's homework, plus some others I got given so I can help them, and me. Though he's the only one doing his homework. It's funny actually. Crouched over forms on his moods. Doing exercises on his thought processes with fangs and ridges when it upsets him. I keep losing pens when that happens. But if it works it's worth it.
I know what she's capable of now, the books help understand it, but we still have to deal with it. If she won't help herself the Council might involve itself. I've kept them away thus far, but I know them. There are still the wetworks boys out there. Spike can't help with that. There's just me, and I know what I should do to an apocalyptic menace. I really don't want to do it. I know I might have to. I hate my life.
Spike still can't hurt humans, which is a relief. The state he was in for a while he could have hurt me, or others, without meaning to at all. The alternating hysterical laughter and heartbreaking sobbing definitely made the old padded cell and straightjacket approach appealing. With that, and Willows silent crying and sullen silence, the last couple of weeks have not exactly been the most fun I've ever had.
But with the World Cup Spike turned the corner. It took him out of his closed loop of guilt, memory and hysterical grief. The mention of playing Brazil next was a bit of setback though. He kept laughing about hunting Argies, and crying about the fun he and Dru had at Carnevale in Rio. Slaughtering the innocent in the Sambodromo in the lulls between the different samba schools dancing. Munching revellers in very skimpy underwear at the Red and Black Ball - where he hadn't even had to change his clothes to fit it. The Gay Ball where they were handed hangover pills, condoms and fans when they'd gone in, and Dru had slaughtered the transvestites hogging the Ladies mirror she couldn't even see herself in. That led to much writing again in his guilt list and howls, alternating with shouts of, "Bring on Brasil!!!!!"
So getting him in a state fit for the Ireland match after an evening of that was quite an achievement. Getting Willow, even grudgingly, willing to come out was a greater one.
Then I opened the door to someone I never expected to ever to darken my doorstep.
He stood there with a slightly battered sports bag, and with a raspy voice said, "Mr Giles. I'm sorry to intrude. There's nowhere else for me to go. If I stay in LA, if I stay in hotels…Can I come in?"
I didn't say the words. He works with that bastard Angelus, and while it was still daylight it was pretty cloudy, and he might have been turned. But I left the door open and he followed me in.
He put his bag down and I looked at him. It was a shock. We'd spoken occasionally since he left Sunnydale, so I knew he'd been through some rough times, what with being shot and blown up, but he seemed to have aged 10 years since I saw him last. His voice was raspy, he hadn't shaved recently, and his eyes looked like he'd seen too much. I know that look; I see it in the mirror every morning. Sometimes I see it in Spike's face. I wish I saw it in Willow's. I'd know she'd taken in what she'd done if I did.
Wesley rasped, "Thank you Mr Giles. I…"
It's not the library pissing contest now so, "Just Giles please Wesley. Mr Giles always makes me feel like my father."
At the mention of the 'father' word Wesley grimaced and said, "Thanks, certainly wouldn't want to do that. And it's Wes. My friends call me that. If I had any left that is" with a grim chuckle.
Great, another lost soul for the Rupert Giles Home for Distressed Sunnydale Residents.
I sat him down. We all sat down. Looks like we're watching Ireland vs Spain at home. Spike flicked on the telly. I went to the fridge, got some beers out, threw one to Spike, handed one to Wes, who looked like he needed it badly, and gave Willow a de-everything coke. I don't want to lose anymore antiques to Willow, or anyone.
Wes said thanks and continued, "Giles, thank you. I just need somewhere to rest. I…I have a stalker. If an American bitch calls please say I'm not here. Everywhere I've gone…she's there, or she's on the phone. I just need a break. Please?"
Colour me gobsmacked. The blueberry scone's changed.
No alternative really. I had to say yes. Spike can show his new roommate where things are after the match. Well I'm not sharing with either of them. If Spike kips on the sofa Willow'd be far too tempted by the curtains, and Wes is too tall for the sofa. I certainly can't ask Willow, and, unfortunately, I can see she'd say no if I did.
There must be a big story behind all of this. I mean I don't see Cordelia letting Wes get into this state, from all I've heard over recent years. Even if I wouldn't trust Angel about as far as Dawn could throw him. In the meantime he looks at the end of his rope. Therefore, in need of a match that should be good, but in which none of us is overly emotionally involved in. So, football and beer it is. Sorts out a lot, that does.
So Spike dug out an old Pogues album for atmosphere. Can't sing all the depressing Fields of Athon whatsit or Danny Boy at the beginning of a match. If they lose ok, but for the run up it just has to be 'Fairytale of New York', 'Irish Rover' and 'Streams of Whiskey'.
Hearty singing of the Irish anthem on the telly was followed by a big group hug by the Irish team. Ah well Becks has laid some real smackers on Owen and Ferdinand when they scored - must be missing Posh. Things started well. Most of the pundits picked Spain, which given their dismal track record this World Cup meant Ireland were as good as through. Ireland had some good early play but nothing to cause much excitement. Wes put his beer away before the first five minutes. So did Spike, but I've learned; the fridge is well stuffed with beer now and Spike skilled in the art of retrieving it. The new soul makes him willing to bring out a few cold ones to others too - so that's a plus.
We'd just got the re-fills when "Argggggggg", "Bugger", "Unlucky", and, "Whatever."
The bloody Spanish scored. Ireland didn’t give up though.
"What do mean? Miles over the bar!"
"Why do some of the players only have 1 name? It makes no sense," from Willow. It's great to see a flicker of life from her.
"Nice save from the Irish lad!"
"They've got the posession. Just not getting anything."
"Put on big Quinny!"
"They're missing Keano."
"Robbie's the better one!"
"You impugn my beloved team's captain?" from the Man U supporter. Why did I let a Man U supporter in? I won't be allowed in down at the Chelsea ground.
"They're both tossers."
"Least they win things. What's Chelsea won recently?" I hate it when he's right.
"We can open the curtains you know, sonny!"
"Nah, you'd miss me."
"Like a hole in the head. More beer, we need more beer."
"Bugger they scored again."
"Offside! Clearly offside!"
"Clearly in" from Wes.
"Luck of the Irish innit?"
"He shoots, he misses
"Nice save from the Irish keeper Why do we have to suffer fumbling Fabien?"
"What are Spain doing? Happy with 1-0?"
Penalty! Silence! He shoots! He misses. "They're going out."
Spain score! Silence. Disallowed - loud phew.
"Aw close!" Subsitutions galore. "Phew"
"They're out, look 89 minutes gone."
"There's only one Robbie Keane!"
Extra time, and the horror memories of penalties.
"No, not penalties, don't make us go through penalties, please!!"
"Do Spain have any strikers on the pitch?"
"Go on, go on my son!!!! Noooooooooooo!!!!!!"
An agonising 30 minutes later and all three of us Englishmen are flashing back to penalty shoot out nightmares of years past. The British Isles inhabitants don't let down that long and horrible tradition - they lose.
Time to cheer ourselves up, after that sad finish, with a rousing chorus of 'Don't Cry for Me Argentina'. It worked. Even Wes cracked a smile and joined in the chorus with Spike and me. So bring on Brazil!
Continued in Part 5. I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends