The letter with the Sunnydale postmark was a welcome surprise. There had been several transatlantic calls since Giles' return to Bath, but no letters. It hadn't surprised him, really; Buffy and the Scoobies were very much children of modern America, and he had long ago discovered letter writing was something of a forgotten art in that country. Perhaps he would break down and get an e-mail account; electronic communication might prove more enticing.
Settling into his favorite chair, the rain beating gently against the windows, Giles turned the envelope over, savoring the anticipation before actually opening it. He felt a slight disappointment when he realized the return address was that of The Magic Box. Most likely Anya had sent him a progress report on how the business was doing. The handwriting was not hers, though, the letters more looping and flowing, a style Giles had not seen since his school days.
Curiosity got the best of him at last, and he carefully slit open the envelope. There were several sheets inside, all covered with the same flowing handwriting. No, it couldn't be from Buffy or her friends. They had the most appalling handwriting. Unfolding the sheets, he began to read.
I'm probably the last person in the universe you'd expect a letter from, but I thought you might like to hear what's happening here on the Hellmouth.
Curious, Giles flipped through the pages until he reached the signature, a single word: Spike.
Surprised, he returned to the beginning, wondering what the vampire could possibly have to say that would cover so much paper.
We've managed to keep ourselves busy since your departure, trying to track down a demon who seems to have a fondness for freezing museum guards and stealing diamonds. No luck on that front, though anything you might know would be helpful.
Harris and Anya are continuing with their marriage plans, although Anya is starting to show a certain longing for her demon heritage that could mean trouble. Don't know if it's pre-wedding jitters or she's really having second thoughts. Droopy Boy is being amazingly mature about the whole thing, much to everyone's surprise. Perhaps there's a prophecy somewhere in your annals about sodding idiots growing up and the world ending?
Tara has moved out of Casa Summers, thanks to Willow's little forgetting spell. However, she's still seeing Dawn, and Red is hoping the two of them will get back together. I doubt that'll happen anytime soon. Appears that there's this rat Willow had who was really a girl and Willow finally managed to de-rat her (you may know more about this -– I couldn't get a coherent background). Anywise, this girl Amy is apparently also a witch and more than a little willing to dabble in the Black Arts. She's hooked Red up with some bad stuff and bad people. The man's name is Rack, and if I didn't have this sodding chip in my head, I'd let him know it's time for him to close up shop and move on. He's gotten Red hooked on the dark stuff, and is feeding off her energy – that's been his usual mode of operation. Apparently, Red's sworn off it, but I can't imagine Rack letting such a tasty feed go so easily. Don't ask me how I know him; it's a long story and I can hear you clucking your tongue at me all the way from here.
Giles realized he was indeed clucking his tongue. Putting the letter down, he fetched himself a scotch. Somehow, he had the feeling he was going to need it.
Suitably fortified, Giles picked up where he'd left off.
The real trouble came when Red decided to drag Dawn along while she got her "fix." They went missing for hours, Buffy worried (the girl does need a lojack) and I got dragged in to help find the Nibblet. What followed wasn't pretty. Turns out Red had managed to conjure up a demon while she was on her little power fling, and it'd ended up following them. To make a long story short, Willow stole a car, crashed it, damn near got Dawn eaten by this demon, and fried it while Buffy was in the process of kicking its ass. Dawn had a broken arm, and I ended up taking her to emergency while Buffy dealt with our addict.
Dawn and I had a long chat while we waited for her to get her arm set. She's feeling lonely and cut off. Seems Buffy's been either smothering or ignoring her, and everyone else – myself included, sad to say – have been pretty much ignoring her now that Buffy's back. Fortunately, Tara seems to take a real interest in her and, despite the problems between her and Red, is still making an effort to let the Nibblet know that someone cares. I'm going to try to do better myself, but that may be difficult due to certain other circumstances.
As you might guess, the certain other circumstances include Buffy. She's not doing great, Rupert, but I think you knew that when you left. After she came back, we started talking. Rather, she started talking; I listened and tried to make her smile on occasion. I think maybe it's the fact we have a shared experience. After all, we've both had to claw ourselves out of our coffins and that's something you don't forget, no matter how long you go on. I'll make a confession; I've known since shortly after she came back where Red wrenched her out of, only she made me promise not to let you lot know. She so desperately wanted to make everyone think it was alright, that they'd done a good thing by bringing her back. Maybe it would have been better if she'd let out everything that was inside her then, instead of letting it fester.
She's desperate to feel anything, but it's also like what she does feel, she's afraid of. She's blowing hot and cold on me, and it's driving me mad. She seeks me out, we snog madly, then she turns ice queen and runs away. Only it's gone beyond the snogging now, and she wants to pretend it never happened.
I know what you're doing at this moment. You're picking up the phone to call the airlines, hop a plane over here and stake me. Put the phone down. I have no intention of hurting her; I'd stake myself before I did that.
Giles realized his hand had indeed reached for the phone. With an effort, he replaced the receiver and continued to read.
Buffy will kill me if she ever finds out I told you, but I've reached the point where I need to talk to someone, and I feel we can at least speak man to man – or vampire to watcher, as it were. I love the girl, Rupert, and love her enough to know she's the best damn thing that's ever happened to me, dead or alive. I'll take eternal damnation, Dru, Angelus, Darla and all the rest if that's what it took to get me to this moment.
Enough being soggy. I'm not writing this to let you know I feel sorry for myself, because in some ways I'm not. The best thing I can do for Buffy is be strong and not indulge her behavior any longer. She's leaned on all of us and needs to stand on her own two feet and face what life's dealt her. Only when she does that will she start to heal.
But you knew that, didn't you? It's one of the reasons you left, because she'd come to depend on you too much. All slayers have a death wish; I've seen it in their eyes. But I never saw it in Buffy's eyes until now. She longs to be away from here, and I fear that someone's going to slip in and have that one good day. She's got to find a reason for living, be it Dawn or me or whatever it takes.
So me and the girl aren't talking at the moment. Things are…complicated between us, but I still want to do what's best for her, and that's why I'm writing you. Quite accidentally, I discovered my chip doesn't work on her. Works on every other human around; I know because I tried and got the migraine to prove it. It doesn't, however, work on Buffy. (I will spare you the gory details on how I proved it.) So, unless this chip is Buffy-centric, which I doubt, there's something about her that isn't firing it off.
Willow used something called the Protocols of Osiris to bring Buffy back. That much I've managed to extract from Tara. I could go and look it up at The Magic Box, but that would raise some eyebrows and suspicions. Besides, while I've done a spell or two, I'll be the first to admit it's not really my area of expertise. You've got the background and training, and with the resources of the Watcher's Council at your command (somebody must owe you some favors), I'm sure you can find out how the bloody thing was supposed to work and what could have gone wrong. Perhaps it's just a remnant of an other-wordly Buffy, but I'd rest easier if I knew.
I've cut a deal with Anya, and she'll let me use the store as a mail drop, so you can write me care of that address. (She's insisting on my help with inventory in return for this favor. Lo, how the mighty have fallen.) Write soon. I'll keep my eye on her, but the clock is ticking.
Say hello to the Mother Country for me,
Despite the crackling fire in the fireplace, Giles suddenly felt very cold.
Continued in Entry 2 - Intentions