Hi Everyone! (waves)
I'm new to the BtVS fandom, and this is my first attempt at a fic in this category! Please be gentle with me. This story treads on a lot of theoretical ground, and I took numerous liberties. For anybody that's actually interested, I've taken the time to explain myself on many fronts over at my LiveJournal. There's a link to it in my profile! I don't want to take up space and word count here with an overly long author's note.
An apology goes out to any readers of my currently running stories that stumbled onto this by chance- especially the Azureshippers! I swear, I'll get to some updates soon now that this one is working its way out of my system. :)
Anyway…about this fic…
Disclaimer: BtVS and its characters are not owned by me, and this fic is not written for profit of any kind. Same goes for any songs or lyrics mentioned within.
Pairing: It's Buffy/Giles, boiled down to its purest form. Just give it some time to take off. And please don't flip at the slight hint of Giles/Olivia!
Spoilers: Hmm… definitely for 'The Dark Age'. Indeterminate for really anything else.
So we danced with a rifle, to the rhythm of the gun
In a glade through the trees, I saw my only one
Then the earth seemed to rise, hell hot as the sun
The soldiers were dying, there was tune to the sighing
The song was an old rebel one.
-Rebel Waltz, The Clash
Rebel Waltz: Chapter 1
Up In Heaven (Not Only Here)
Camden Town, London, 18 January 1981
Rupert Giles looked out of his open window into the cold and rainy streets below, green eyes unfocused and vaguely contemplative. The sidewalks were gray, washed with an unforgiving swirl of black and yellow and dull blue, an oil slick of puddles lit by flickering street lamps and heavily filtered moonlight. On these winter days, it seemed like darkness fell before you were halfway through with your afternoon tea. The nights were relentlessly long.
The city was a beast, a damp and freezing monster. January was unkind, and Rupert very nearly resented the fact that he was at present sitting comfortably in a warm apartment; not particularly large or well appointed, but cozy. Even the word made him uncomfortable. The recent events of his life were such that he was unaccustomed to warmth and luxury. Perhaps that was why he was perched next to the window, almost ignoring his cigarette and silently absorbing the combination of sounds rising from the High Street on one side and his turntable on the other. The relative tranquility and order of his flat made him feel like a caged animal. The music helped a little; why was it that The Clash always seemed to fit his frame of mind so well lately? The Sandinista! album had been released about a month ago, and had hardly left his record player since. It was almost eerie how his thoughts were mirrored back to him through the music. Right now it was Up In Heaven (Not Only Here):
This room is a cage it's like captivity
How can anyone exist in such misery?
He had been feeling this way quite a bit over the past few months. Perhaps not so much the misery part; he had become numb to that particular set of emotions some time ago. But the cage, that he understood. He often felt like the whole city was a cage, designed specially for him. He was held prisoner by his own thoughts and memories. The faces of his so-called friends flashed before his eyes; Thomas, Phillip, Deirdre, Ethan, Randall…
Randall, slumped over in a sickening boneless heap…
Sighing, Rupert rose abruptly, flicking the cigarette end out the window. He paced around the room, absently placing his right hand over the spot on his left arm where the Mark of Eyghon lay hidden beneath the sleeve of his sweater. Frowning deeply, he sauntered to the stereo and flipped the record. After Randall's death, he had disassociated himself with his circle of friends. It was a mutual break- none of them could bear to be in the same room with each other, crushed as they were by the weight of their guilt. All except for Ethan, anyway. Perhaps they all needed to get away from Ethan more than anything else. He continued to insist that Randall had died because he was weak, too weak to survive and thrive on the forbidden high of Eyghon's invasion.
The rest of them were all in agreement that they had effectively killed him. Ethan's denials only made matters worse. The music broke into this thoughts again:
Somebody got murdered
His name cannot be found
A small stain on the pavement
They'll scrub it off the ground...
For weeks- or had it been months?- afterward, Rupert Giles roamed the city of London, avoiding his old haunts and aimlessly traversing the city. He drank in every dilapidated pub from Brixton to Finsbury Park and anywhere in between. Some days he rode the Underground trains for hours, despondent, staring blankly across the platforms as people on their way somewhere bustled to and fro. He slept in parks or squalid abandoned buildings. Occasionally he would take up with a woman for a few days, but he could never tolerate the human contact for long. There had been drugs once or twice, but for the most part he couldn't be bothered. None of them were potent enough to cut the pain or quell the magic withdrawal. All the while he was standing still, a twenty six year old ghost, stupefied and incapable of extracting himself from the vicious cycle he had landed in.
Then he had run into Archie.
He had run into him quite literally, in fact. Rupert had been stumbling semi-drunk through Soho with his hands buried in the pockets of his leather jacket and bashed square into the man as they turned a corner headed in opposite directions. Despite his advance in age and a significant disadvantage in height, the older man had been the one to remain standing when Rupert collided with him. The solid white-haired Scotsman had frowned and crinkled his eyebrows thoughtfully while helping him to his feet.
"Aren't you the Giles lad? You look like all nine circles of hell at once, boy."
And that, basically, was how he had ended up here. Blind chance. Archibald Lassiter was an old acquaintance of his father, and had been one of the less irksome instructors Rupert had known as a young man when his father had insisted that he take training as a future Watcher. Because it was his 'destiny'… It seemed so long ago now, it was like another universe. But Rupert had been desperate enough to grab the lifeline that Archie offered. First they had spent a number of hours in a nearby café. Rupert had told him nearly everything, including what had happened to Randall. All the while the man kept him supplied with tea and sandwiches, which he appeared to need in the worst way. Before Rupert knew what was happening, he was agreeing to meet Archie the following day at an address in Bloomsbury.
The strange part was, he hadn't even thought about not going.
That day had been nearly a year ago. It had been amazingly easy to settle into the new routine. During the day Rupert worked at the British Museum, which was apparently a very common 'undercover' vocation for Council operatives. It wasn't that much of a stretch for him, anyway, with the battered pieces of half an Oxford history degree under his belt. He felt quite at ease with the work of cataloguing new acquisitions, and became very knowledgeable about the artifacts without much effort. The range of languages his father had insisted that he learn as a boy hadn't hurt, and Rupert had a funny feeling that the Museum might have even hired him outside of the Council's urging.
At night, he studied with Archie or did various jobs for the Council. Shadowy deliveries in bad parts of town, research, whatever gophering was required… oh, and had he mentioned the research? They were tasks that were typical of the treatment often foisted upon the most junior members of an organization. The small branch in Bloomsbury, near Russell Square, was an offshoot of the Council of Watchers' London headquarters in Knightsbridge. Its existence was a mercy to Rupert; he doubted that he would have been able to endure the pressure and politics of headquarters- at least, not yet. The atmosphere at the branch office was fairly relaxed. Archie and his team apparently specialized in the more covert, behind the scenes functions that the Council served. They were good at what they did, and were generally left more or less to themselves.
He sometimes got the distinct impression that Archie was shielding him, either from the Council's influence or their prying eyes. If so, he was grateful. The last thing he wanted to hear was any grand talk about duty or destiny, and he would be a fool to think that the name 'Giles' wasn't familiar enough to attract their interest. He just wanted to get on with his training, and not think about the future too much.
One thing Rupert hadn't been willing to do was to live at the lodgings provided at the branch, or even particularly nearby for that matter. Bloomsbury was upscale, architecturally attractive, the perfect picture of civic pride… it made his skin crawl. Perhaps it was the bit of 'Ripper' that was left in him, but the manicured lawns and neatly scrubbed stone facades struck him as false and artificial. And the people were even worse- with so many universities and cultural institutions nearby, the squares were overrun with intellectual snobs and pretentious academics. They made him remember quite a few reasons why he had left school and run away from his old life in the first place.
That was why he had taken the flat in Camden Town. The surrounding community had grown haphazardly out of a mixed industrial heritage, resulting in a varied population and a slightly gritty vibe. The winding and labyrinthine markets were colorful, and surprisingly good sources of authentic occult literature and paraphernalia, if you knew where to look. The people were similarly interesting. Hipsters, punks, dope fiends, recent immigrants, hustlers, black marketeers, skinheads, out of work actors, manual laborers, fortune tellers, and ordinary people just going about their business… Needless to say, it was also advantageous that his comings and goings at all hours were not viewed as unusual. Here, he was no more or less suspicious than anybody else.
He also liked the pubs, though he tried to stay out of them these days.
Perhaps his residing here was a way of keeping his distance. Rupert didn't think about it that way, but psychology was a funny thing. It took him the longer side of half an hour to walk from his flat to the British Museum, with the underground fairly convenient for the days when the rain came down too hard or he simply couldn't be bothered. Maybe the separation was something he needed, before charging headlong into a new life- or was he plummeting backwards into his old one? The confusion and the sense of transition were not lost on Rupert, and the aggressively changeable crowds along the Camden High Street fit his mood to a manic perfection.
Rupert returned to his perch at the window, watching the rain come down. Nights like this always brought memories to the forefront which, for him, hadn't been the best sensation in the recent past. Things were gradually getting better, though. He found himself thinking more about his childhood and the days since that fateful meeting with Archie than he did about the dark time in between. Not that he had forgotten; the mark was a constant reminder, and he thought about Randall every day. The caged feeling was there, indeed, but at least now there were some good things about his life. The job at the Museum was alright, and he was remarkably at peace with his new association with the Watchers' Council. The partnership with Archie came with no obvious strings attached, and he didn't have to think about where it was leading.
All in all, the past year hadn't been bad. There were even, he would admit, some bright spots.
A snort of laughter worked its way out of Rupert's throat. Well, that was an unexpected turn for his thoughts to take. He hadn't seen Olivia in several weeks, as she had apparently felt a spontaneous need to travel. "Got to see the world while I'm still young, haven't I," she had said. Many things about Olivia were spontaneous, and in a short six months' time their relationship had experienced more ups and downs than a yo-yo on methamphetamines. Right now she was probably somewhere in Germany. Or had she said she was thinking of trying Morocco? He found it hard to tell with Olivia sometimes whether she was serious about the things she said.
This trend had featured quite prominently in their relationship…
We will surely find out more about Giles and Olivia in the next chapter. If you want to hear some of my opinions on the matter, check out my fic notes over at my Live Journal! The link is in my profile.
I hope this small but concentrated tale will catch someone's attention. I've really been having fun writing it. If you have any feedback or comments, please drop me a review! I would love to see how I'm doing, since this is a scary new fandom for me!