Setting: Post-Dead Things
Entry 5 - Bodies
He tried to tell himself it was just because of the news about Buffy, whom he was concerned for. He'd only received one brief note from her since his return to England, painting a far different picture from Spike and their few phone calls had been filled with uncomfortable silences and guarded sentences. If anyone had told him a year ago he believe Spike's accounts rather than Buffy's, he would have thought them mad.
One of the things I enjoy about your letters is that they're so full of glad tidings. Of course, mine aren't much better, so that puts us on equal footing.
Am I surprised the Council has yet to uncover anything? No. The Council plods. The Council has always plodded. If they didn't, they might be more effective against my kind. I've garnered a fair amount of information about them during my study of Slayers, and there are times they act like they're stuck in the Nineteenth Century. The old "the sun never sets on the British Empire" mentality. Before you start clucking your tongue, let me remind you that I remember when Disraeli made Victoria Empress of India.
Giles wasn't clucking at all, but chuckling. Spike had somehow managed to echo his own opinion exactly, though he'd never admit it.
Miss Chalmers' thesis has arrived and is currently sitting on my bedside table. Perhaps it is a well-thought out piece of work, but her style's a perfect cure for insomnia. It's taken about three days to get through the first two chapters and this is my bloody life she's writing about. I'm making notes like a good boy, though I fully intend to be selective about what I let her know. No reason to give your enemies too much information on oneself, is there? Actually, I'll amend the above. I found her summary of Angelus highly amusing and will happily give her copious notes on what the Poof was like in those days. A man's got to have some fun.
I have to say I like your idea of gathering support before attempting to push for a stipend. Points to you, Rupert, for not rushing in blindly. Although Buffy never said a word to me about Travers, Joyce was fairly forthcoming in sharing what Buffy had told her. Sounded like a perfect git.
I miss Joyce. Lovely, lovely lady. Never hesitated to offer me a cup of hot chocolate when I dropped by, and was always willing to listen to my problems. Ripped me a new one about the stunt I pulled with chaining Buffy up, though; I'd come by hoping to get re-invited in, but she refused. Said Buffy had her reasons and I'd have to earn her trust before I was allowed back inside. Told me that if I tried to hurt her daughter, she'd take an axe to me like she did when we first met, only it wouldn't be with the blunt end.
Hard to believe she's been gone nearly a year. I stroll by her grave on a regular basis, make sure everything's alright. Wish she was here now; she might be able to get through to Buffy.
Had it really been a year? Putting the letter aside for a moment, Giles tried to wrap his mind around all that had happened in that short space of time. Joyce's death. The fight with Glory. Buffy's own death. The nearly five months of patrolling and trying to keep the demons and vampires convinced Buffy was still alive. Coming home to England, only to get the phone call from Willow that Buffy was alive. Back to Sunnydale. A smile and hug, but tired, tired eyes. Offering to let Buffy lean on him while she got better, only to find she was simply letting him do the thinking for her. Learning she'd not been in a hell dimension at all. Making the decision to go.
So much, so short a time. A glance out the window showed the day was gray and overcast, a far cry from the clear blue skies of Southern California. He'd ask the rector to add Joyce's name to the remembrances for Sunday.
You asked how the others were doing. I saw Red the other day and she seemed in better physical shape, though still a bit jumpy. Apparently she's not allowed into the Magic Box without a chaperone, which is probably the best thing for the moment. We talked about general subjects like the plans for Buffy's birthday party and what she should take this semester. She was very much in her "Willow trying to pretend everything's fine" mode, so there's still a lot of stress going on there she doesn't want to admit to.
I haven't seen Dawn in a few weeks. Buffy has put her foot down about her visiting my crypt, as that's hardly the image one wants to give Social Services, young girl visiting a man alone in a dangerous cemetery. Nibblet showed up one afternoon anyway, and I put my foot down, backed up what Big Sis said. I received the trademarked pout for my pains.
A key turned in the lock and Giles looked up as Olivia entered. "I brought the stuff you wanted," she said, putting the bags she carried down. "What time are your guests coming?"
"About eight; should be plenty of time to get supper together." He rose from his chair and gave her a light kiss.
"Not if you get yourself lost in research." She gestured to the pages he still held. "Information from your colleagues?"
He glanced at the pages before setting them down on the desk and picking up one of the bags. "Actually, a letter from Sunnydale. All the latest news."
She gave him a gentle push. "Why don't you finish, then? I'll put everything away. I know you want to hear how Buffy is doing."
With Olivia puttering about the kitchen, Giles settled back into his chair.
Buffy seems to be making some effort to reconnect with Dawn, though I don't know how successful she's been. She's making an effort at the job as well, being perky despite that incredibly stupid hat she has to wear. Reminds me a bit of the bot, though, the few times I've stopped by, the smile a bit too fixed.
Despite this, though, she's not really connecting with the Scoobies; I've seen her withdraw from them at the Bronze, watched the smile fall from her face when they aren't looking. I'll admit that I like having Buffy in the shadows with me; she's suddenly within my grasp, all warmth and fire -- at least until she realizes she's let her guard down a little too much and flees. This isn't like it was when I first wrote you. She comes to me now, seeks me out. There's enough of a connection between us that I can sense her, and I don't mean the usual vampiric "ooh, dinner" type of sensing. It's like there's a signature that cries out "Buffy" when she's near. I had that to some extent with Drusilla, but I always thought it was in large part because she's my Sire. Dru seemed to have the same reaction to Angelus, knew when he walked in the room.
This is different, though. It's stronger, more intense, and I can tell when she's approaching, not just in the same room with me. What's more, I think she can feel it too. I would say blood was calling to blood, but we've done nothing to warrant that. There are times when she trusts me, when I see her come to life again, and hope springs eternal.
Giles felt at once repelled and relieved. He wished Buffy would come to her senses and end this liaison with Spike. No good would come of it, of that he was certain.
Yet…Spike knew how Giles felt and still wrote, seemed to be dealing with him honestly. If his objective had been to rub Giles' nose in his success at finally luring Buffy to his bed, there were far more graphic word pictures he could have painted. Instead, his words were filled with concern.
One sentence stood out, and Giles re-read it to make certain he'd not mistaken Spike's meaning: I would say blood was calling to blood, but we've done nothing to warrant that.
Spike hadn't bitten her. The thing that had haunted Giles' dreams since Spike's first letter had not happened. He'd assumed sex would include biting; all the extant research on the mating habits of vampire seemed to indicate it was a common occurrence.
Of course, when had any of those authors actually had the chance to observe mating vampires?
Deliberately pulling his mind out of the research gutter it was headed for, he focused on the next paragraph.
She's fragile, though, more fragile than I often want to admit. Worse, she's managed to acquire some enemies who seem to be playing with her mind. It started when they turned her invisible (which I didn't tell you about because I didn't know most of the details, and what I did know is private between Buffy and myself), but a few days ago, they tried to pin a murder on her.
In theory, I don't know most of this, but remember how I said Willow was a bit jumpy when we met? She also talked far more than she should. Our old friend Warren (from whom I commissioned the bot) has decided upon a career as an arch villain (which is probably better than flipping burgers at Doublemeat Palace) and joined forces with two of Buffy's schoolmates, Jonathon and Andrew. They stole a diamond from the Sunnydale Museum and used it to create an invisibility ray, which Buffy got caught in. Willow managed to help Buffy become visible (without magic, you'll be happy to know) and that's when they discovered these three were behind various things that have been going on around here.
A few nights ago, Buffy and I were out in the woods when time began to get all wonky. We were fighting demons, then not fighting them, then Buffy hit a girl, who went rolling down an embankment. The girl was dead when I got down there and Buffy was convinced she'd killed her. She wasn't thinking clearly, talking about turning herself in, so I got her home and went back to take care of the body. Unfortunately, I botched the job and the police found it. Buffy was going to turn herself in despite my efforts but stopped when she learned the girl was connected to Warren. Seems the demons we'd been fighting had been Rwasundi, who cause temporal distortions and hallucinations for humans. The Rwasundi must have been summoned by Warren to frame Buffy, because it turns out the girl had been dead over twenty-four hours when we found her. I thought I smelled fresh blood when I moved her, so he'd clearly put a glamour on her as well to make her appear newly dead.
What worries me is that Buffy looked almost relieved to be turning herself in, ready to walk away from Dawn, me, the Scoobies, everyone. I'm beginning to believe what's wrong may be more than just what Red did to bring her back. Can I really be the only one that sees it? Do Harris, Red and Demon-Girl really believe that everything is as hunky-dory as they pretend? If they do, they're bigger idiots than I thought them to be.
Maybe I'm over-reacting. I saw Buffy last night, briefly, while I was on my way home from a blood run. She told me she knew she hadn't killed the girl and that she knew who did. Didn't give me half the details Red did, but at least she told me. Also told me she was mad at me for trying to dispose of the body, that the police would have quickly realized she hadn't been responsible. I pointed out that by the time the incredibly brilliant police force of Sunnydale had deduced that, Social Services would have moved in to take Dawn away. Didn't have a reply on that one, just told me she'd pulled the late shift at her job for the next week so she wouldn't be able to see me. Told her I'd take patrol and she shouldn't worry.
All very civil, lasted only a few minutes, but she didn't have that haunted look about her. Wasn't running away, but taking care of business. It wasn't the greatest, but maybe it's a start.
All this, and only Spike thought to write and let him know what was happening. Xander, of course, would be busy with the wedding, and Anya had both the wedding and the shop to occupy herself. Willow might have dropped word, though she would be more likely to do that via e-mail rather than pen to paper. Perhaps he should get that modem hooked up. He'd ask Olivia if she knew how to handle it.
Shame to hear you won't make the wedding. Would be nice to have another adult to talk with, though I've been given hints I may well be expected to help entertain the guests Anya's invited. I know Buffy would like to see you again. She misses you something terrible, to the point that she's actually talked to me about it. If I could, I'd spirit her away from Sunnydale and bring her to visit you. If it rained enough, I might even be able to go sightseeing with her during the day.
Nothing more to report, except to remind you Buffy's turning twenty-one soon, and you know she'd like at least a card. Send something cheerful that'll put a smile on her face. She's so beautiful when she smiles and I haven't seen that enough lately.
Thanks for the offer of the phone. If I need to call, I will, but I wake each night hoping things will get better and I won't have to call in the Cavalry. Problem is, I already did by writing you, didn't I?
Giles slipped the pages back into the envelope, but made no move to rise for several minutes. There was supper to start and guests to arrive soon -- several younger members of the Council, including Lydia Chalmers. At least he could tell Lydia her thesis had arrived safely.
Small comfort when he wanted to be halfway around the world in an instant.
Continued in Entry 6 - Reasons