Setting: Post-Normal Again
Entry 12 - Just a Few Comments...
That was when he'd thought her as a tool, someone who might be of use but nothing more. Now he'd begun to appreciate her abilities and found not a tool but an ally, one he was loathe to insult by handing her a poorly written critique. Spike might be able to write coherent letters, but this was another arena entirely.
The pub was quiet and Giles took a sip from his pint before picking up the sheet of notepaper that lay atop the pile of larger pages. Unlike his letters, Spike had mailed this in a larger envelope, allowing the pages to arrive flat and unwrinkled. At least he had some idea of presentation, which was a promising sign.
Here it is in all its glory. Don't know if it's what she's looking for. It's been an age, literally, since I last had to write commentary and I was told then that I strayed from the point far too often.
Commentary? When would Spike have written commentary? Giles had been surprised at the polish of Spike's letters, a marked contrast to the Big Bad persona he wore. But commentary?
The answer came back almost immediately: at university, before he was turned. Another clue there was more to him than they all knew and another piece in the puzzle.
Dear Miss Chalmers,
My apologies for having taken so long in getting this to you, but I imagine Giles has supplied some indication as to how interesting things can be on the Hellmouth.
Being a creature of darkness and evil, I appreciate the unique opportunity you have provided by allowing me to read and comment on your thesis. After all, it's not every day a vampire gets the chance to correct some of the misconceptions and misinformation that may spring up in a century or more of living.
First, a note as to your sources. The Chronicles, while extensive, are at times based on rumor and garbled stories from frightened peasants. As such, the actions of one vampire are often ascribed to another. I realize that this particular volume is the seminal text for most of the research done by the Council (along with the diaries of various watchers), but it is a compilation of material, much of which has been lost or destroyed. It is not actually a primary source but a secondary one, a consideration which I find often overlooked. Also, many of the facts on the Order of Aurelius are simply wrong. Peregullum has an excellent section on the Order that corrects many of the errors in the Chronicles, as least based on what I know of the family lore that was passed down to me. I would also recommend Tresmyrion for some of the more esoteric pieces.
Spike had to have been at university; Giles recognized the faintly academic, pedantic tone immediately. Oxford or Cambridge? he wondered. If I knew his last name, I could check.
I cannot comment on the veracity of the Watcher Diaries as a whole except to note that at times my recollections of events are somewhat at odds with the excerpts you quote. This can be put down to a) I was there and the watcher wasn't, b) perspective, and c) personal biases. We all have them.
I mention your sources because, unfortunately, much of the early part of your thesis is based on certain fallacies that have crept into the Chronicles. To begin with, I am considerably younger than the almost two hundred years listed. Second, I far prefer "Spike" to "William the Bloody." Third, I have absolutely no idea where anyone got the idea that the Great Poof was my sire instead of Drusilla.
That sounded a bit more like Spike. Giles made himself a mental note to explain Spike's various nicknames to Lydia.
The bloodline flows as follows: the Master made Darla, Darla made Angelus, the Poof made Drusilla (after driving her mad), and Drusilla made me. Since the date listed for Drusilla's turning is fairly correct -- no, I won't give you the exact date as I'd never reveal a lady's age -- that makes it rather difficult for me to be almost two hundred since she hasn't reach one hundred and fifty yet, now doesn't it? As to the deeds attributed to me during the early part of the nineteenth century (when I was not yet even a gleam in my father's eye), most of them can be put down to various other vampires, including several from the Order of Aurelius. I am, after all, hardly the only vampire to be turned who was named William. Angelus' human name was, in fact, Liam, the Irish derivation (and another excellent reason to adopt a different name).
All I can think of was that following the death of Yujan Wu in 1900, her watcher or some other chronicler assumed since I had killed a slayer and Dru and I set out on our own shortly thereafter, I must be a more senior or "master" vampire. A master doesn't have to be older, but one who has kicked sufficient butt so he won't be mistaken for or treated like a minion. Being the head of your own family or killing a slayer makes one a master. Doesn't mean there aren't others further up the food chain who can still call you on things. The Master was the Master until the day Buffy rammed a stake through his heart and even after killing two slayers, crossing him is not something I would have done lightly, if at all.
I have numerous comments regarding Angelus, but since they are not necessarily germane to the main body of your work, I have appended them in a separate monograph.
To provide a correct summary of my early history, I was turned in the late 1800s by Drusilla (making me between 120 and 130 years old) and became part of the lovely little family known as the "Scourge of Europe." It was, I must confess, a reputation made mostly by Darla and Angelus, though Dru and I did our parts in the next twenty years to uphold it. My original splash was made as William the Bloody, but I quickly chose to adapt "Spike" as more in keeping with my new life. We were a quartet until 1898 when Angelus was first cursed with his soul by the gypsies, then Darla, Drusilla and I made our way through Poland, Russia and onto China over the next two years while Angel tried to find himself. Showed back up just in time for the Boxer rebellion and Yujan Wu's death, only to decide his soul prevented him from enjoying the normal life of a vampire and taking off again.
I must applaud you for your assertion there is "no evidence" to support Hodgson's theory that Drusilla was sired by Angelus out of jealousy over my liaison with Darla. Bloody well right, there isn't. Even if the theory weren't impossible because his timeline's all wonky or ignoring the fact Angelus would have nailed me to a church door to greet the sun for attempting to move in on his woman, I wouldn't have bedded Darla on a regular basis for all the tea in China. Mean, controlling, as likely to stab a lover in his back as pleasure him -- I prefer to walk away from bed with my body parts intact, thank you. You can quote me on that.
Giles took another pull on his beer. He was going to enjoy this. Hodgson had been pushing his theory for a decade now, ignoring any evidence to the contrary. During Giles' brief return before Buffy's resurrection, they'd ended up in a rousing argument in the middle of the Council's central reception hall, highlighted by Giles yelling, "I think he bloody well knows who his own sire is, you git!"
I dispute your use of the word "random" to describe the travels Drusilla and I undertook following China. Sounds like we simply blew with the wind, not caring where we went. To the contrary, we always required that the place we landed be entertaining. Dru was often governed by her visions while I favored those places that provided the latest in music and entertainment. It was this combination that led to the diverse nature of our travels. Believe me, it was not my idea to travel to Norway in December of 1933. I would have preferred Paris or even Berlin in all its decadence. I most certainly would have preferred anywhere except Prague in the spring of 1997, but Drusilla had a vision so off we went.
On page 128, you misspelled "Marseilles." That wasn't me anyway, but a vampire named Harvey, who is of no consequence and long since dust.
The statement "William the Bloody has fought two slayers and killed them both" is erroneous. I've killed two slayers, but have fought nine at last count. Yes, the number is a bit high for the average vampire, but I'm hardly the average vampire. I'll admit to seeking out slayers ever since Angelus first told me of their existence; one can't ask for a better fight than with a slayer at the top of her game, either against her or on her side (being one of only two vampires I know of who can make that claim). I've also fought two slayers at once and lived to tell about it, which is an interesting but painful story Rupert Giles can relate to you.
I survived these encounters by studying the slayers closely and learning how to read them. Pit a random vampire against a slayer and the odds lie heavily with her; she is trained, focused and usually dedicated to her calling. Only when the slayer is wounded or tired -- not just exhausted, but tired of the fight, tired of life -- do the odds switch. Random events do happen to shift the balance, but there's a good reason vampires fear the slayer. With five of the seven slayers I fought who survived, I realized the odds were not in my favor and chose to break off rather than be staked. The sixth was Kendra and I was doing quite well until Buffy decided to take her place.
It was a good thing he hadn't known any of this when Spike had first blown into Sunnydale nearly five years ago. It'd been bad enough learning their new foe was the Slayer of Slayers, but if Giles had known the vampire had survived five additional battles, he might have well packed Buffy off to a safe place.
He felt one corner of his mouth quirk in irritation. Pity Angel had not seen fit to share any of this information at the time. Not that it likely would have made any difference; Buffy and Spike seemed to move in some bizarre dance to which only they knew the steps.
The seventh, as you might have guessed, is Buffy Summers, quite possibly the finest Slayer the Council has ever known. Quick, clever, attractive and highly skilled at kicking ass. I notice your thesis ends before I came to Sunnydale (you did forget to add "charming" to your final analysis of me), but if you consider an appendix or addendum at some point, you might wish to consider interviewing both Buffy and myself, not simply relying on Giles' accounts. I think the two of us might offer us a unique perspective and give the Council a fuller appreciation of Buffy's accomplishments.
That brought a smile to Giles' face. He'd love to see Travers' reaction if a series of joint interviews were proposed. He'd have to suggest video tape to Lydia.
I realize that my notes are somewhat general in nature, but more detailed ones would take far longer and I wanted to get something off to you. If I should think of anything further, I'll send them off via old Rupert. If you have questions, he knows how to get in touch with me.
Spike (aka William the Bloody)
Knowing Lydia would find the comments more than adequate (and probably show them off to everyone within five minutes of their receipt), Giles put the letter aside and turned to the remaining pages.
Angelus: A Rant
It was only with great difficulty that he did not spew his beer over the pages. Need to make copies before I give this to Lydia. The first word was written in the looping style Giles had become familiar with; the next two words were scrawled in a different ink and underlined, as if added as an afterthought.
An appalling amount of paper has been wasted regarding that oh-so-special unique, one-of-a-kind vampire with a soul, Angelus, more commonly known as Angel. There are prophecies, papers, books, chronicles detailing his accomplishments, methods, defeats and why he's just plain gosh-darn different. Because of recent events, even more attention's been turned on him.
That a vampire should be able to father a child is not completely outside the realm of possibility. The Balkans are filled with stories of dhampires and I actually met a man some ninety years ago who may well have been one; just looked at me and knew what I was. It was not an encounter I care to repeat. Leave it to Angel, though, to go the legends one better by not only fathering a child but managing to get one on another vampire. Given the way watchers love to look for the meanings behind prophecies, I'm certain the question "Why him?" has frequently arisen. The answers are beyond me.
The basic facts of his origin are correct as far as I know: in 1749, a drunken Irishman stumbled into an alley, thought he'd found himself a bit of slap and tickle and woke up with ridges and fangs. Given the little I was ever able to pry out of Darla of what she knew of his human life, Liam (as the bog dweller was known) was worthless; gambled, drank, whored, brawled and busy working his way through his patrimony as fast as he could. The odds were he would drink himself to death, die in a bar brawl or of syphilis. Unfortunately, he met Darla instead.
I can't vouch for any of the details of his career before I arrived on the scene. There were tales and stories, but they seemed to shift and change each time they were told. Sometimes, it seemed Darla and Angelus had participated in two separate events with people who looked amazingly like their partner. That Angelus was subject to obsessions, stalking and terrorizing the object of his "affections" I can verify by the evidence of Drusilla. Normally quite mad, there were times in the 120 years we were together she remembered very clearly the pains that had been visited on her. Even accounting for her state of mind and way of speaking (Dru never says anything straight if she can use an analogy or a metaphor), I believe the Chronicles may well be understating the extent of Angelus' cruelty.
Interesting, but it almost seems as if the writers refer to two separate beings: the demonic Angelus and the souled Angel. Sometimes I wonder if the gypsies didn't just curse him with guilt rather than a soul, because post-curse Angel seems to have more scruples than pre-death Liam. The curse does not, however, prevent him from acting like a poncy bastard.
Cruelty. By the time I showed up on the scene, Angelus had cruelty down to a fine art, a fact I became quickly and painfully aware of. He was the unquestioned head of our little family and brooked no opposition or challenge. We were, in fact, dysfunctional even for a vampire clan and I've at times thought the four of us might make a nice edition of Jerry Springer. Of course, we might end up by eating the audience, but no loss there.
For the next twenty years, we careened across Europe, happily causing chaos wherever we went. We fought, which was not surprising considering Angel and I developed different ways of looking at the world. I prefer the adrenaline rush of a good brawl, wading in all fist and fangs. Keeping after someone until they're a quivering mass of jelly that can't defend themselves just isn't my style. Angel, however, began his career by terrorizing his village, culminating in the murder of his entire family. (The idea that this is a common practice among vampires is something of a fallacy; let me state for the record that my father predeceased me and my mother died peacefully in her bed at a ripe old age.) Somewhere along the way, he got the fancy idea that it was more "artistic" to terrorize a victim before you killed them. There were times when it appeared he got off on the terror more than the blood itself.
This is what ultimately led to his undoing and the Great Poof we know and loathe today. In 1898, Angelus decided to stalk and kill a gypsy girl. She was innocent and trusting and I'm not certain she actually understood what he was. Her tribe took exception, grabbed a handy Orb of Thesulah, and, voila, one souled vampire to go. And go he did. Took off running for the hills without a word (and most of our money in his pockets, I might add), not to be seen for two years.
When we next find our hero, it's in Peking during the middle of the Boxer Rebellion. Sweet-talked Darla into believing for a moment that he had decided to turn back to his bad old ways. Not sure why she believed him, except that she likely wanted him around instead of me. (Don't believe that female vampires aren't subject to little things like PMS; Darla was. For the two years Angel was gone.) We might have easily fallen back into our old patterns except for two events. First, Darla discovered Angel letting a group of missionaries go instead eating them like a proper creature of darkness. Second, I killed my first slayer.
Angel wasn't happy with this. I'd just upset the balance of power by doing something neither he nor Darla ever had. They couldn't safely dismiss me any longer. Darla was the one who forced the question, offering him the choice of eating the child of the missionaries he'd spared earlier or leaving. He chose to leave.
The Chronicles don't have much information about Angel for the next ninety-odd years, nor does the vampire community. He wandered, avoiding most of our kind, brooding on his fate. I ran into him once in New York during the early 1980s; at that point he looked pretty bad, almost unrecognizable. I considered stopping out of sheer curiosity if nothing else, but he made a break for it and I didn't actually care enough to pursue.
From 1996 on, his activities are fairly well documented. Moved to Sunnydale, helped the Slayer, lost his soul again, got it back, got sent to hell, came back, helped the Slayer, walked out on her (causing endless repercussions, the bastard), moved to Los Angeles and became Angel, Vampire Detective. Sounds like he should have his own TV show.
Those are the facts of his history, but it still doesn't speak to the question of why this nancy-boy ended up being considered so special by the bleeding Powers that toss around us around like we were dice in a crap game. Perhaps the answer lies in his nature or personality, something which I notice neither your thesis nor the other chronicles speaks to. Allow me to shed a little light on this oh-so-special shy and retiring vampire from my personal experience.
He's a bastard. Uncaring, unthinking of anyone but himself and the moments he's happiest are divided between brooding (souled) and causing pain and terror to those around him (unsouled). I've known him for over a century now and I haven't seen much change since the night I first crawled out of my grave. Well, except for the brooding. Angelus didn't brood, unless he got good and drunk. Then he would brood. And sing. Believe me, you don't want to hear him sing.
Unsouled, Angel has a positive passion for destruction and he's one of those who happens to think sending the world to hell might actually be a good idea (See Rupert Giles' report of the Acathla incident). Souled, he acts as if the weight of the world rests upon his shoulders, as if a single misstep might somehow bring down Armageddon. He was always cheap, except when it was something he wanted, like the gel he favors to make his hair stand straight up. I can vouch for the lemon verbena shampoo, as well as the oatmeal body scrub. Plotting to destroy the world and he sent a minion out to refill his supply.
It's the insistence on luxuries such as gel and body scrubs and complaining if he got blood on his linen during a kill that earned Angel many of his nicknames. If you're going to dress for a drawing room when you're going out into the middle of a riot and then whine that you got dirty, of course people are going to think you're a poof. Well, at least in my opinion.
When I had an opportunity to peruse some of Giles' diaries (see his comments on the Initiative and how I managed to get this stupid chip in my head), I noted that he has, on occasion, used some of my nicknames. For the sake of clarity, the most common ones are Poof, Poofter, Great Poof, Nancy Boy, Soul-having, Soul-whipped, Souled One and Peaches. Most are self-explanatory, but allow me to explain the origin of "Peaches."
We were in Vienna in 1892. The trip had proved somewhat of a bore until one evening when we attended a formal soiree in honor of a visiting ambassador. As Angel always liked his luxury, we dressed well when the occasion demanded it and often attended the theatre and society events. (I did see Angelus actually weep at a ballet performance he found beautiful, proving that there is hope even for the worst of us.) We were looking for dinner and found nothing to our liking as the crowd was older and probably rather tough. While it takes a great deal of alcohol to get a vampire drunk, too much champagne on an empty stomach can make one quite giddy. Darla had a great deal of champagne, and decided to liven things up a bit. She dared Angel and me to go up to the musicians' gallery and drop our trousers for the crowd. As we'd also had a great deal of champagne, we agreed.
Not surprisingly, wackiness ensued and we decided it was best to end the evening early. Many a laugh was had back in our rooms but the brightest moment came when Drusilla chose to describe Angel's appearance in her own charming and unique way. "It was soft and round," she said, "like the skin of a ripe peach."
It was too much for Darla and I to bear and we immediately began calling him Peaches. Not surprisingly, he didn't particularly find the humor in the situation and we were discouraged from using it. This is to say, any time I wanted to set him off, the name came up.
Looking over this, I realize I have committed the very sin I complained of earlier: wasted far more paper and ink on the Great Poof than originally intended. I will end, therefore, with the hope that you find this piece useful in keeping watchers gainfully employed in searching for the meaning behind impossible prophecies. Given all the things I've seen in this world, I must say there's very little I would call impossible, except perhaps little green aliens in spaceships who buzz drunken tourists on deserted desert highways.
Or Angel being able to sing anything on-key.
Giles laid the last page down, wiped his eyes once more and lifted his pint in silent salute. He could hardly wait.
The dining room was almost full and Giles spotted Lydia at a table with five others. Perfect. Copies had been made and safely tucked away so he could present her the envelope with the Sunnydale postmark, his address written on the front. Setting his pace to a deceptively casual walk, he made his way across the room. "I was hoping to see you here, Lydia."
Her eyes darted first to the envelope, eager and hopeful. "If you'd like to join us "
He shook his head. "Just wanted to deliver this. Spike has managed to come through at last."
She practically dived for it, but kept her calm at the last moment and gracefully held out her hand. "Spike?" one of her companions asked.
"William the Bloody. Mr. Giles was kind enough to give him a copy of my thesis and ask him to make some comments on it."
"Your subject is making comments?" Eyes all around the table lit up. Ah, the enthusiasm of the younger generation.
"I'll leave you to it," Giles told her. "Let me know what you think."
Smirking to himself, he made his way from the room, pausing briefly at the door to look back. Lydia was quite immersed already, with her fellow watchers craning their necks to get a view."
"Going in or going out, Rupert?"
This was the icing on the cake. "Going out, Quentin. Just had to deliver something to Lydia."
Giles smiled at the man who stood behind Travers. "Hodgson, I believe there are some things there you might find of interest."
A sudden, unexpected crow of laughter came from the middle of the dining room and Giles looked back to discover all pretense of disinterest had been abandoned. Lydia's companions were standing now, eagerly reading over her shoulder.
"Oh, yes. Really."
Continued in Entry 13 - Whispers in the Wind