THERNODY By D. M. Evans Disclaimer - Joss owns all. I own squat. I'm just happy to play. All lyrics belong to Natalie Imbruglia. Pairing - none Rating- PG-13 Summary - Buffy tries to reach out after returning to life. Distribution - if you'd like it please ask,, slayer fan fic, Shipper United. Author's Note - All lyrics are from Natalie Imbruglia's "Beauty on the Fire."

--Here it comes again Cannot outrun my desire Cover my descent And throw the beauty on the fire--

Buffy listened to the music pouring from the radio. The house was empty except for her. Willow was out and Dawn should have been home but she wasn't. She had called to say she was still out with friends. Buffy hoped it was the truth but somehow it didn't concern her as much as it should. Her own demons were picking at her, little cuts leaving her soul oozing and raw. There was so much she needed to say to him but she didn't know how. Sitting at the kitchen table, Buffy took a piece of Willow's scented stationary and began to write.

Dear Giles,

God that sounds so horribly formal. What am I even doing writing this? Because I need you. I can't call you. I've tried so many times I've lost count. All those hang up, they were me. Please, come back. We need, I need you. We're all adrift. Everything has gone so terribly wrong. How do I put into words what you've meant to us, how much you're missed? Where do I even begin to tell you about how wrong, how bad it's gotten?

You know about Dawn, at least a little. Maybe Willow's been keeping you up to date. I don't know. She's so involved with her own problems with Tara that I barely know her any more. It's all bad on that end, too. Giles, I can't connect with Dawn. I am losing my baby sister. You saw her trying to date a vampire. It's getting worse. She's stealing things. It may just be another way to make me hurt. Willow says it's because I don't have enough time for her. Maybe she's right but what can I do? I slay all night and work all day. And why is that? The Council pays you. Why doesn't it pay me?

I'm not Mom, Giles. I don't even know how to be or want to be. I'm barely more than a kid. I don't know how to be Dawn's mother. I can't handle her. I can't deal with her spite and her anger. I think sometimes we both wish Glory had just taken her. My father's no help. The courts can't even find him to get child support out of him. He's somewhere in Europe. What is it about me that makes the people I love run far away? I can't do this alone. I know you could help. I don't mean with the money. I mean, really truly help. I know that's part of why you went away. I leaned on you too hard, wanted you to be the adult while I played. It took your going away to drive that home. But I'm so afraid, Giles. It's too much. I keep dreaming we'll all be gone and there's no one but you standing over our graves. My father doesn't even show for our funerals.

Buffy dropped her pen, sobbing. She got up from the table and put on a teakettle as she struggled to regain control. The mere act of making tea wasn't helping. It made her miss Giles that much more but she knew once the hot, sweet liquid touched her lips she'd feel a little better. She sat back down to her letter.

--Drawn toward the edge

Do I assume I could fly Every secret shared Why do I drink the feelings dry Don't go too far Limitation scars--

Sorry, sort of cried all over the page. I keep imagining you over there. Are you happy? Lonely? I think the latter. You became our father, even if you never intended to. Please, come back. Maybe you're afraid there in England, haunted like I am. I've thought hard about it, Giles. I'm thinking you had to stop Ben in order to stop Glory. Spike couldn't do it, the others wouldn't have the strength. I think I know what you did to protect me. It stuns me with its depth of feeling and sacrifice. I want to thank you but I want to do it in person.

I know that it's selfish for me to ask you back to this nightmare. And it's wrong but I'm wrong. I think I left the best parts of me moldering in my grave. Or maybe in heaven. I don't belong here, Giles. I think of leaving this place every day but I can't do that to them, to you. I feel like I'm wrapped in wool, in a strait jacket. No one gets through to me. I'm numb. I'm dead but I can't lie down. I can't talk to anyone, not to you, not to Dawn or Willow or Xander.

I tried to call Angel more than I tried to call you but each and every time I stop. I feel like he slipped away from me when I died. Heaven and hell lies between us and there's no bridging that. The pain is beyond my ability to describe. I can't find my way back to myself. Nothing touches me any more.

Buffy stopped as the teakettle whistled. She made a cup of Earl Grey. The smell made her think of Giles. The warmth of him. He was like a favorite old sweatshirt, worn and comfortable, something she'd never part with. She could tell him anything. He usually listened without judgment, except once or twice after Angel had tortured him. God, what that man had suffered for her. How could she have ever let him go? She took her teacup and went back to her letter.

--Tonight could I be lost forever

To drown my soul in Sensory pleasure--

Giles, you more than anyone have always listened to me without condemning me. Neither Willow nor Xander can claim that, and certainly not Dawn. I lied earlier. There is one person who can touch me. Spike. We're, I can't even think about it. There is no nice way to say it. We're screwing. It's not love. It's like two animals that can't control themselves. It's ugly and hurtful, and cruel and it's the only way I can feel alive. I hate myself for this. I hate him even more. I'm trying to drown myself in him, trying to shock myself alive with the horror I'm sinking myself into. It's not working. All I'm doing is dying more inside, layering myself with rot, hoping someone will notice and pull me out of the muck. No one has. If he tells me he loves me one more time, I think I'll kill him. I can't bear those words. We've cheapened and degraded everything they stand for.

That's not a joke, Giles. It's worse than you know. My temper, my pain, my rage is spinning out of control. I turned Spike into a pulp. I beat him mercilessly. He made me do it, taking all the fury, trying to drain it all out of me. What if he had been a mortal lover? I would have killed him. The terror of what I did to him, of what I'm becoming, keeps me up. I can't rest. I can't find any peace.

Please come home, Giles. I know you can't fix everything but you can help. You push me, challenge me, comfort me. You make me better than I am. I'm lost without you. I want to be found.

Love ,


Buffy took the letter and carried it to the trash. She went to toss it in but stopped. She carefully folded it into an envelope instead. She couldn't post it any more than she could destroy it. She carried it to her room and hid it in her old diary. That done she curled up on the bed and prayed for release.

--Here it comes again

You raise the bar even higher I cannot catch my breath So throw beauty on the fire Don't push too hard Limitation scars--