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.
Work… money… good job… Anya….
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.
Oh, yeah, Spike's been badgering for your address. Do you want me to give it
him? Evil demon thingy writing? Anyway, let me know - he's a pain about it.
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
In the morning, he sat at his desk.
Thank you for your letter. On no account give Spike my address.
All the best,
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.
Sorry, G-man. Staking him came to mind. He's not stopped whining about it, so
I agreed to forward this. Just send him the address? Please.
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.
Don't include any more notes from him, please.
Sorry, but he's irresistible. Anya says that's the right word. Don't seem right
to me. Whatever, I can't say no to him.
Giles took Spike's included note back to bed with a cup of tea. He tore open the smooth envelope.
You're a sad git Rupert.
Giles sipped his tea thoughtfully and studied the penmanship. Another shard of
obsession lodged in his heart: he loved the handwriting now, too.
Just send me your sodding address.
Got stuff to say.
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.
I have no idea why you are doing this. Frankly, I don't care. Stop writing to me. I've tried to put into order of importance the reasons why I don't want you to contact me. That you are dead, that you are a demon, that you are evil, and that I don't like you, all feature toward the top of the list. If you think that I am stupid enough to let you know where I am living, so you can set one of your hideous vampire family on me, think again.
He sealed the note and put it inside a brief one to Xander.
Give this to Spike.
Surprisingly, therefore, a letter addressed to him in Spike's - now memorised and studied - hand came within a week.
I tortured the fat git till he gave it me - well, I followed him around and talked to him. Good as.
Giles read this with some amusement and was about to reply, when another arrived by the second post.
And yeah like I've got insane vampires at my beck and
call. Very amusing Rupert.
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 seems a pity, having tortured Xander so - and I agree that you talking non-stop
would be torturous - that you have nothing more interesting to say. I may not
open any more of your letters. So, I advise you not to write.
It was surprising how long five days could be.
Yeah like you aren't sitting somewhere reading this. Your
natural curiosity - plus other things - guarantee you're there pouting slightly.
The rain on the glass beat a rhythm to Giles' bold reply.
Get a life, Spike. For God's sake, stop this infantile drip, drip communication.
It worked with that idiot XH; it won't work with me.
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
Yeah but now I've got a little collection of your letters
I can keep - all wrapped in a ribbon, you know, keepsake like cus you're so
far away and left me here all on my own.
Too far to walk back to the post office again, he drove his reply there instead
so it could catch the next post.
Very funny. I burn yours on the fire at night. Stop writing,
Spike. I won't open anymore.
So, its cold enough there for a fire? Hot here. It'll
be Christmas soon. Seems wrong.
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?
How can you do this? Why are you doing this? I don't understand what you want,
Spike. Spit it out, and be done with this nonsense.
Don't you miss any of this, Watcher? They miss you. All of them - though I bet they don't say it in their letters. It never comes over right, does it? I miss you. Sounds like "wish you were here" which is what you say when you're glad someones not. I miss you. Nah, bet they aren't saying that.
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.
I doubt very much anyone is missing me at all. Except, maybe, Buffy. I expect
they think this is just temporary: that I'll come back. The real missing will
begin when it sinks in that I'm not.
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.
My leaving, my staying here permanently, has nothing to do with how much I love
what is still there. The two things are completely unrelated.
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.
many times do I bloody have to tell you, Human? Love has nothing to do with
fucking nobility and self-sacrifice. You think you show love by running away?
You think its loving to leave those who need you? Thats not love. Love is all
consuming. It burns your belly, it boils your blood until it runs so hot it
feels like cold in your veins. Its obsession, its need, its killing someone
cus they don't love you enough. Thats true love.
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.
That is the sort of self-indulgent sentiment that leads
to madness, that breaks people apart, tears families asunder, starts wars. You
speak as someone driven only by emotion. I rationalise. What you speak of is
not love; it's greed. I was brought up to believe in sacrifice. I left, so she
could find her way. I don't expect you to understand, and I will not justify
myself more to you.
His hand shook slightly as he posted this: the lie, so obvious to him, making him afraid to send it.
Bollocks. She needs you. You didn't even consult her,
did you? You didn't ask her what she wanted, if she loved you. You're a fucking
coward, Giles. You ran away cus you couldn't face facing
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…
I did NOT run.
Giles considered crossing out, obliterating, the capitals to imply some other thought, but he was saving that cheap device for something more tantalising.
I told her what I was doing, and I planned it with her. Anyway, I am not discussing
this anymore with you. Did you actually have anything you wanted to say to me?
You started this correspondence, after all. I have awaited your important news
on tender hooks; I now grow bored.
Cunt. Liar. Anyway. Two can play this game and I'm a lot
older and a lot cleverer than you. Yeah there is something I want from you.
Dru is in London apparently.
I want you to find her for me and let me know when you have.
You're a watcher. Fucking watch.
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.
The whereabouts of your insane sibling - sire? - is no concern of mine. If she
is in London, then I warn you, Spike, she had better stay there. You have a
cheek to ask me such a thing. This correspondence is now at an end. If it has
been a game to you, then I am withdrawing gracefully. Don't write again.