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Falling - Chapter 1

It hadn't stopped raining since he'd arrived back. Raining, as he'd landed at the anonymous airport; raining, as he'd negotiated the now unfamiliar traffic to the west country; raining, as he'd collected keys from uncaring agents; raining, as he'd twisted and turned down dark county lanes to the cottage; raining, as he'd let himself in and inspected the damage eight years of renting had inflicted on its eleventh century peace, and still it rained, two days later, as he tried to find his life, himself and his sanity, back in this dark, unwelcoming land.

Giles woke on the third day with his heart even heavier than it had been on tearing it away from the endless sun. It was still raining, but now it suited his mood. He turned over in the bed and tried to block out the memories.

Two weeks later, and he had not consciously thought about any of it, immersing himself in the every day necessities of settling accounts, shopping, redecorating and attempting - rather vainly - to find a life. No conscious thoughts, but a painful stab of need on glimpsing a certain shade of hair; an embarrassing flush of desire watching someone smoking in a teashop, staring at slim young fingers lifting the tiny, white column to narrow, eager lips; an unwanted tightening in his balls as a thumb ring on a shop assistant glinted dully in the light.

Two weeks of being haunted by desire: mocked by the ghosts of his passion. He had not believed - until it had happened to him - that love involved falling, that love was out-of-control movement from one place where all was clear and secure, to another where it was not, where all was doubtful, painful and confused. He had thought it fanciful when people declared - revelled in - unwise love. Love was something best grown into, like a favourite jacket: comfortable, worn, familiar. Loving without control, loving unwisely, was self-indulgent and only for the weak.

So, ten days away from him, and Giles still had no idea why he had fallen, crushingly hard (in surely the definition of unwise) for someone who was dead, who was a demon, who was a man, who loved women and not men, and who (probably most importantly) did not like him and thought he was a stupid git.

Fallen. Landed… broken.

He'd come home to escape the pain, but had only carried it here, to a dark land where the incessant rain penetrated every crack, slipping in to chill him to the core.

He didn't want to be back there in the sun, though. He knew this odd passion would not be reciprocated. This was not an instance of being able to present his case and win someone over. If he'd picked any of the others, he might have won them over with slow persistence. Buffy - given the right circumstances - might have weakened at his capacity to give comfort and fatherly care. Even Willow - the most unlikely of conquests - might have fallen for admiring exchanges of wisdom and the sharing of dark power. Even Xander, even Xander Harris - at some weak moment - might have been seduced by the very idea of being seduced. However, none of these facets of his personality - fatherly figure, powerful warlock, seducer - would ever have worked on… the one Giles wanted. So, the further away the better. There was to be no fairytale ending to this dark need, no glance that would set their passion on fire, no words or actions that would allow him to press his body against that harder, cooler one.

All summer they'd worked intimately together. All summer… nothing, but then one smile, one casual comment, and the fall had begun.

He wanted, he needed, Spike. And of all the people in the world he could have fallen for, Spike was the least likely to want him back. Dead, demon, man, lover of women, hater of him - two weeks on, and Giles could only let the ache tear at him.

Letters began to arrive, making the forgetting impossible, the remembering painful. Buffy wrote of staking and cemeteries - Spike brought forth in every image. Xander wrote of workday things - Spike's presence haunting every line. Dawn wrote of school and friends - descriptions of their little lives conjured Spike in every word. The ache just got worse.

Three weeks… another letter from Xander. He looked at the smiley face drawn on the flap but didn't feel like smiling. He tossed it to one side of the breakfast counter and went out for a walk in the rain. He wasn't consciously trying to catch a chill - he had no one to care for him, no one to make illness delicious - but walked every day in the rain, miles in the rain, until his muscles ached along with his heart. He returned that day, exhausted, read the paper without interest, lit a fire and poured himself the so-needed first drink: the one that would ease the way for all the rest until sleep came heavily. He got up to fetch some ice - a tenuous link to the other place - and saw the discarded letter.

Expecting nothing of interest, he tore it open as he returned to the couch.

Giles sighed and turned the page. The name hit him like a bolt of electricity to the balls. He actually felt sweat prick under his arms as nervous tension gripped his belly.

He tried to focus, to read the sentence.

Giles didn't refresh his drink that night. For the first time in three weeks, he went to bed sober. He didn't want the fug of alcohol dulling him; he wanted to think.

In the morning, he sat at his desk.

He had another forty years to endure. Short, sharp pain now would enable him to continue living. If he allowed this obsession to grow - if he fed it with hope - he would surely burn up in its all-consuming flame.

He walked the five miles over the fields in the rain to the post-box and sent it off that day. The following week, another letter arrived; same handwriting - only now the envelope was bigger and bulkier.

He opened it and found another inside, blank and sealed. He read the note.

Giles held the plain envelope in his hand and pouted slightly, then, with a small shrug, opened it. The note was short and to the point.

He turned the page sideward. Spike had thoughtfully illustrated this sentiment with a small sketch. Giles wasn't sure whether he had managed to convey stupidity. He'd certainly made the shape look… unappealing, but Giles was beginning to realise that this was becoming a feature of his views on all female anatomy.

He felt a small grin come unwanted to unused muscles.

He wrote back to Xander by return of post.

A letter came back from Xander before the weekend, early - just as he was coming down for breakfast.

Giles took Spike's included note back to bed with a cup of tea. He tore open the smooth envelope.

Giles sipped his tea thoughtfully and studied the penmanship. Another shard of obsession lodged in his heart: he loved the handwriting now, too.

He took a pen and some writing paper from his bedside drawer: unbearable that he had left Spike's presence, but unacceptable that Spike intruded on his grief like this.

He sealed the note and put it inside a brief one to Xander.

Surprisingly, therefore, a letter addressed to him in Spike's - now memorised and studied - hand came within a week.

Giles read this with some amusement and was about to reply, when another arrived by the second post.

Giles spent the afternoon watching the rain. It was falling as fast and as hard as his heart had done at one ironic smile, and he felt just as powerless to stop it.

With heavy inevitability, he picked up his fountain pen.

It was surprising how long five days could be.

The rain on the glass beat a rhythm to Giles' bold reply.

Opening Spike's reply on the way back from collecting it at the post office was not a good idea. It started to get soggy, and he had to refrain, almost running to get it into the dry. He stood panting on the mat, his eyes eagerly scanning the smudges.

Too far to walk back to the post office again, he drove his reply there instead so it could catch the next post.

Giles sat huddled over the fire, drying out from yet another dash to the post office. It brought a pang of remembrance as he read this. What had sunlight felt like on skin?

This reply so confused and upset Giles that he could not reply for some days. When he did, he scrawled in dark ink across a smooth page.

Giles did not get a reply to this. For a week, he waited in for the post, stayed in for the second delivery, filled his time with useless activity from one day to another: the non-arrival of a slim piece of folded paper consuming him.

Writing again hardly seemed the done thing when he'd made it so clear that he didn't want letters in the first place.

He replied to an earlier one from Buffy, instead, casually asking her if Spike was still a nuisance. She telephoned instead of writing, and they had a long, slightly tearful conversation: the kind that precluded him mentioning the vampire.

To Giles' utter relief, she finally spoke his name, saying wistfully, 'Spike says you're never coming back.'

Giles paused at the sound of this name in someone else's voice - not the constant repetition of it in his head - and composed himself. 'What did he base that assertion on, did he say?'

'Nah, but he figured you were never leaving there. That you didn't love us.'


'Well, he didn't say us; he said you, as in us. Does that make sense?'

'Not really. Yes. It does. I did. I do.'

He did. He loved them all so much that he didn't want Spike upsetting them. It was the perfect excuse to write first.

He smiled sadly at this wild declaration of love for the absent vampire, wished he could make it as clear to Spike as it seemed to him, but posted it off in its coded form anyway.

Spike replied in red ink, which by the time the rain had gotten its destructive grip on the envelope turned the address into a smear of blood.

Giles' wet hands smudged the ink, and it stained him, as if his skin agreed with Spike: blood. It always came back to blood.

He deliberately chose a fine nib and cool blue ink.

His hand shook slightly as he posted this: the lie, so obvious to him, making him afraid to send it.

There was a crossing out at this point in Spike's reply. A thorough one, one so thorough that it almost tore through the paper: a dark black box, gone over and over. However much Giles held it up to the light, watered it down and blotted it, or swore at it, it did not reveal the writer's original intent, and the letter ended rather disappointingly…

Giles considered crossing out, obliterating, the capitals to imply some other thought, but he was saving that cheap device for something more tantalising.

Giles read and re-read this for many days. His initial emotion on receiving it had abated somewhat, and when he'd stuck it back together, he pondered its meaning thoughtfully. He didn't know why Spike thought he was lying or, more importantly - as everything these days was a lie - whether Spike knew what he was lying about. He didn't know what game Spike thought they were playing and worried that he couldn't win, if he didn't know the rules. The abrupt introduction of Drusilla - being reminded of Spike's passion for her - had thrown him completely. He had no intention of helping Spike find her, and for many reasons, but he couldn't bring himself to write of her for many days more.


Dizzying, bewildering. It was like talking to him: you never knew where you were. Giles laughed, frowned, got cross and, later, wiped a stray tear from his eye. He wanted to shout out for it to stop and cry out that it never would.

Before Giles could decide whether to reply, and before he could frame what he was going to say to his inevitable reply, Buffy called again: early morning for him, middle of the night angst time for her. They had another long and slightly tearful conversation, but Giles was thankful that, this time, the tears were all on her side. Desperate to mention Spike, he spent most of their talk distracted and wondering how to introduce his name. He had no need. Buffy suddenly blurted out, 'Has Spike arrived yet?'

Giles opened his mouth to reply. He remembered that; that part was clear in his mind. He heard a neutral, sensible reply in his head. "Arrived?" but nothing actually came out. He tried again but was still speechless. Fortunately, the postman took that opportunity to arrive, and a loud rapping sounded on the door.

He managed to whisper to Buffy, 'Hold on. And, God, hold that thought,' as he laid the handset down. He went to the door in a daze: arrived yet? Arrived yet?

Pulling open the door, he motioned absentmindedly to the table for the letters, and then froze.

Spike grinned. Rain poured off his hair, dripped loudly onto his leather coat and soaked the earth around him into a small puddle. He twitched an eyebrow, glanced up at the sky and chuckled, 'Fuckin' English weather - don't you just love it? 'Appy Christmas, by the way.'

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