Title: A Lifetime of Summers
Rating: FRAO - adult content and language.
This is my entry for the Summer of Giles. I chose important times in Giles' life and matched them to quotations about summer.
A Lifetime of Summers
The summer that I was ten --/ Can it be there was only one summer that I was ten? It must/ have been a long one then --.
May Swenson (1919 - 1989) US poet
The Centaur, Sts. I & 2, "To Mix with Time," 1963.
Young Rupert Giles lay quietly in the tall grasses, watching the clouds scurry overhead. He knew he would be punished for running out of the house, but he couldn't stand reading the dull, old, books for one more second.
Why me, he thought, why do I have to be a Watcher? Why do I have to stay inside and learn about vampires and demons all day? In the fall he would be sent away to school, a special school, where Watchers began their training. Couldn't he at least have this one last summer for himself?
He remembered back to February, back to his 10th birthday. Father had been hinting that it would be a special birthday, and he had thought he was finally going to get a horse. But instead he had been taken into the study. He had never been in the study: it was strictly off limits. Father did important work there and was never to be disturbed. He had been placed in a chair in front of his father’s desk and told that his life had already been planned for him. That all his dreams of being a fighter pilot were just that, dreams.
He had been told that from that day forward he was to come straight home from school. No more games with his friends. He must be prepared for the new school, which meant complete dedication to his studies. His father had given him a large stack of books. He was told that he had to have them all memorized before going to the new school. He was a Giles and a Giles must always be at the top of his class.
So he studied and memorized, but no matter what he did it wasn't good enough. Upon telling his father that he had the first book committed to memory, he was told that it had taken him too long. When school had finished, so had any semblance of a normal life. From the moment he got up in the morning until he went to bed at night his day was filled with activity. Instructors had been brought in and studying was interrupted only for physical training. He had constant bruises from the various types of hand to hand combat and he had received several cuts on his arms from his sword training.
Today had been the final straw. During his brief break for lunch he had looked out the front window and had seen his friends, his former friends, playing with kites in the field across the lane. Something inside had snapped and he had run from the house, expecting to hear his father's angry shouts, but there had been only silence.
That had been over two hours ago. He had spent the time watching the clouds and keeping his mind as blank as possible. Now, over the rustle of the grass in the wind, he heard someone approaching. He closed his eyes and waited for the lecture to begin.
Instead a body settled down next to him. He opened one cautious eye and to his amazement saw his mother sitting there. She smiled sadly and brushed his hair away from his forehead.
"Oh, Rupert, I'm sorry darling. I wish that we were a normal family, that you could be a normal boy, but that's not the way things are. You are a Giles, and that is both an honor and a curse. Giles' have been part of the Council since it's beginnings. It's a tradition and a big responsibility."
"Why do I have to be a Watcher, Mummy? Why does studying to be a Watcher mean I can't have any friends? Why can't I just be a normal boy for one day, one summer?"
His mother bowed her head, but not before he saw the glisten of tears in her eyes.
"I know it's hard, but you'll understand one day."
"You will understand the first time you stake a vampire. You'll understand the day that a girl is given to you to train. She will be a Potential and her safety will be up to you. If she is Called everything you are learning now will be used to help her stay alive. Together you will protect the world, so that other people CAN have a normal life."
Rupert sighed and sat up. "I'd best go back and study. Is Father very angry?" He started to stand, but his mother pushed him gently back down.
Even as a tear slid down her cheek, she again smiled. "Not today, darling. Today is for us." She lay back in the grass and looked up at the sky. "Tell me, what do you see?"
Until the sun sat the pair lay in the field, watching the clouds scurry across the heavens.
Twas a balmy summer evening, and a goodly crowd was there.
Which well-nigh filled Joe’s barroom on the corner of the square,
Hugh Antoine D'Arcy (1843–1925), French-British poet.
The Face upon the Floor (l. 1–2).
Rupert strode angrily down the street. Pillocks! Bloody fools! The past few weeks had been an exercise in frustration. He didn't know who was worse, the idiots posing as professors at Oxford, or the morons in charge of the Council. He felt as though he was being confined by pointless rules, one of which he was currently breaking. After the last confrontation with his History professor his freedom to leave the halls had been revoked.
He knew he would be in for it as soon as he returned because that prat Travers had seen him leave. Rupert knew that Travers would report him, not only to the bursar, but also to the Council. He was a weasel and took every opportunity to advance himself, especially at the cost of another. Right now, Rupert didn't care. Getting out of that stifling room and away from those closed minds was more important.
He stopped on a corner to light a cigarette, something forbidden in the halls. As he drew the smoke deep into his lungs a door behind him opened and loud music filled the early evening air. He turned around and saw that he was standing in front of a pub. A pub called Joe's. He shrugged. Didn't matter what the place was called, it had what he needed: a good, stiff, drink. He entered.
The place was crowed and a wall of heat and sound hit him. At one end of the bar was a makeshift stage where a band was playing a cover of the Stones song 'Brown Sugar'. At least that's what he thought they were playing. The music sounded right, but the signer was awful. He fought his way though crowd to the bar and ordered a beer. Getting it he moved over and leaned against the wall near the stage. A girl sitting at a nearby table gave him the once over and he smiled at her. She leaned close to the man sitting next to her and said something. The man looked around, also gave him the once over, and indicated that the empty seat at their table was his, if he was interested.
What the hell, he thought, and accepted the offer. The band finished the song; the singer ending on a note that should have been impossible for a human throat to make. The trio at the table winced. "Bloody hell, the bands' not bad, but they'll never get anywhere with that singer," Rupert commented, "I can sign better than that."
The man looked at him, blue eyes sparkling. "Good looking and a voice? Prove it. Sing that song."
Rupert looked startled. "I can't just hop up on the stage."
"Sure you can." The man held out his hand and Rupert took it. "Name's Rayne, Ethan Rayne. I'm the manager, or at least as much of a manager the band needs for now. He's not the lead singer; he was just trying out. Our lead was in a car wreck the other night and we have a gig this weekend, so we're looking for someone to sing, temporarily. Interested?"
Before he could answer, the girl moved her chair around to his other side, and two hands, one male one female, slid up his thighs under the table. Rupert looked Ethan straight in the eyes. "Interested in what; singing or shagging?"
"Either. Both. Up to you."
Rupert turned to the girl. "And you are?"
"Deirdre, call me De." She leaned in closer. "Say yes."
"What if I was just boasting? What if I really can't sing?"
Ethan's hand pressed into his rising erection. "Doesn't matter, luv. You've got the proper equipment for the other."
Rupert reached down and removed the hand. He stood. "One audition at a time." He moved onto the stage, spoke to the members of the band, then stepped up to the microphone. He looked over the crowd and focused in on a girl with milk chocolate colored skin. He sang directly to her, his body moving suggestively to the lyrics.
He sang a few more songs, and then he left with the band, going to Ethan's flat. Several girls from the bar came with them, including the one he had sang to. He wasn't an innocent, but it amazed him that all of the girls were willing, eager, to have sex with him just because he was singing with the band. His few remaining inhibitions had been shed with his clothes and he participated in his first group sex experience.
Rupert lounged on the sofa, naked, and drew deeply on the toke, keeping the sweet smoke in his lungs as long as possible. When he had to breathe, he opened his eyes and passed it to Ethan, who was sprawling, also naked, next to him. Music, moaning, and the other sounds of people having sex still filled the room. He smiled with lazy satisfaction at the girl kneeling between his spread legs, sucking on his cock. He arched his hips, urging her to go faster.
Ethan nudged his arm. "I'd say you passed both auditions. Do you want the gig? Oh, by the way, you never did tell me your name."
Rupert looked around the room. It didn't matter if it was only for one gig. He wasn't going back. He wasn't going to be a puppet for his father and the Council any longer. "Yeah, I want the gig." He looked back at Ethan and felt his magic. He wondered if Ethan knew about the power he possessed. It would be fun teaching him about magic. He smiled. "And the names' Giles, Ripper Giles."
Now the peak of summer's past, the sky is overcast/ And the love we swore would last for an age seems deceit.
Cecil Day Lewis (1904 - 1972) Anglo-Irish poet,
"I got rid of it. I didn't want a squalling brat, and neither did you, not really. I mean come on, Ripper, you didn't really, did you?"
He turned around and glared at her. "After all the money I gave you for the private doctor, and the pre-natal vitamins? Bloody hell, De, I told you I was happy that you were pregnant. I told you I wanted us to get married. I went crawling back to the Council and asked for a job so we would have a steady income. And you got rid of it? Get out!"
Ripper turned back to the window, closing out the stammered protests coming from behind him. All for nothing, it had all been for nothing. Going back to his father, going back to the Council. His father's disapproval had been bad enough, but the Council had been much worse. He had had to go through that bastard Travers.
Begging for a position with the Council, any position, and seeing the contempt in the other man's eyes when he had to tell him why. Because Travers wouldn't just say yes or no. Oh, no, the little pillock had used his power to make him tell everything, chapter and verse, of what he had been doing the last five years and why he wanted to come back now.
And it had all been for nothing!
A hand touched his shoulder and he swung around, batting it away. De shrank back from him, afraid for the first time. "I said get out, De."
"But where am I supposed to go?"
"I don’t know and I don't care. I already told the landlord that we were moving. He's planning on renting this place out next week. I'm leaving tomorrow, you can come back for your things then."
De stared at him in disbelief, then her face hardened. "You want to be like that? All right, I'm going. I don't need you; I can find someone else. I might go back to Ethan."
Ripper gave her a sardonic look. "He's already found a new girl. He won't want my leavings."
De swung around angrily and opened the door. She stopped on the threshold and turned back. "It might not have been yours anyway. I didn't just fuck you, you know. It could have been Ethan's, Phil's, Tom's or even Randall's."
Ripper flew across the room and grabbed her by the throat, pinning her next to the door. "Don't you ever mention that name to me again. Ever!" He gave her a shake, then threw her out into the hallway. "In fact, don't bother coming back here for your things. I'll leave them with the landlord; you can get them from him. Maybe if you give him a pretty smile and offer to pay on your back, he'll let you stay here." He slammed the door closed on her stunned face.
In the silence of the room he sank to his knees and wept. No child; no son or daughter to shower with all the love he had been denied.
All for nothing.
A sunset's mounded cloud; A diamond evening-star; Sad blue hills afar; Love in his shroud.
Scarcely a tear to shed; Hardly a word to say; The end of a summer day; Sweet Love is dead.
William Allingham 1824-1889
Giles sat alone in his apartment, drinking. Half the bottle was gone, but it hadn't helped. Not yet anyway. He could still see Buffy leaping from the tower. Still see her broken body lying on the rubble. Her blood was still on his hands, his clothes. He shuddered and took another drink.
To say that he was alone was both the truth and a lie. He wasn't really alone in the apartment. All of the children were there, but they were all upstairs crowded together on his bed. Even Spike was there, hiding from the sun under the bed. They hadn't wanted to go back to the Summers' home, and they had wanted to stay together, so they followed him here.
Clinging together upstairs, leaving him alone. No one thought that he needed someone to hold, someone to comfort him, someone to help him grieve. No, he was Giles, the adult. He took care of all of them. He took another drink. Maybe by the time he finished the bottle he could get a little sleep. Because as soon as it got dark….
He cut the thought off and this time took a drink directly from the bottle. Later, think about it later. Right now, right this minute, don't think. Don't feel. He could wait, wait until he was truly alone and grieve then. He had always grieved alone. No one had ever held him while he cried.
Except once. Outside the burning warehouse. Grieving for Jenny, for what might have been. A pair of strong, yet soft, arms holding him tightly, rocking him as he cried. He felt his control cracking and he hunched over, smothering the involuntary sounds in a pillow. "Oh, God. Buffy."
A pair of arms, soft, yet strong, enfolded him. He froze, then looked up in desperation into mist green eyes. Long brown hair framed a face that was sad beyond it years. "It’s okay, Giles, go ahead and cry," Dawn said quietly.
He held onto her, burying his face against her stomach and sobbed. Deep, harsh, body shaking sobs. Dawn could hear broken phrases. "I never….she didn't know…there wasn't enough time…I failed." Dawn continued to rock him until he cried himself out.
Giles pulled away, refusing to look at her.
Dawn tilted his face up and smoothed his hair away. "It's okay. She knew."
He froze. "What?"
"Up on the tower, just before she jumped. She told me to tell you that she had figured it out, and it was okay. She knew you loved her, Giles, and she loved you too. But this was the way it had to be. The First Slayer told her that death was her gift. She told me that the hardest thing in this world was to live in it and that she wanted us to live, for her." Dawn's calm broke and she started to cry.
Giles pulled her onto his lap, rocking her as his own tears began again, but this time he didn’t try to hide them. He didn't have to grieve alone.
Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass on a summer day listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is hardly a waste of time. Sir J. Lubbock
Teddy smiled as he looked up at the sky. Sunday afternoon was the best time of the week. A hand pointed up. "What do you think that one looks like?" his father asked.
Teddy giggled. "Daddy, it's obviously a butterfly."
"Do you really think so? I thought it looked more like a dragon."
Teddy grabbed the hand and pointed it in another direction. "Daddy, that's a dragon." He pointed back to the first. "That's a butterfly."
"Why so it is. I must need to have my glasses checked. I thought they were both dragons."
Teddy giggled again. He had the best Daddy in the whole world. Every Sunday during summer vacation, unless it rained, or unless he and Mummy had to avert an apocalypse, the two of them would lay in the backyard, looking at the clouds.
But today was different. Today he was 10 years old. There had been a couple of presents waiting for him when he came down to breakfast, and they had had cake and ice cream at lunch, but Teddy knew that something special was going to happen. He didn't know what and he didn't know when, but he knew. He had overheard Mummy and Daddy talking a few days ago. Not everything, just a few words, like 'old enough' and 'responsibility'.
His father's voice interrupted his thoughts. "There's another dragon."
Teddy looked, but didn't see anything. "Where, Daddy?"
"That's a snake."
"No, it's a dragon. A Chinese dragon. They don't have wings, but they do have little fins. See the fins on its back?"
Teddy looked again, and it did have fins, sort of. "Yes, I see." He heard a rustling behind him and grinned. This part happened every week too. His father raised up on one elbow, looked behind them, and sat up.
"Up you get, Teddy, a lady is coming."
"Even if it's just Mummy?"
"Especially if it's Mummy."
Teddy sat up and looked around. His eyes opened wide and his mouth formed an 'O'. There, a few feet behind them, his mother knelt on the ground. When Teddy looked at her she released the thing she had been holding. A puppy came scampering across the grass, straight towards Teddy. Teddy picked it up, laughing when it tried to lick his face. He surged to his feet and ran over to his mother.
"Oh, Mummy, thank you! This is the best present ever!" He threw his arms around her, momentarily squeezing the puppy between them. It gave a little yelp, and he pulled back. "Sorry." He ran over to his father and hugged him too, being more careful this time. "Thank you, Daddy."
Giles held his son still and looked him in the eye. "I'm trusting you with a great responsibility, Teddy. A puppy is not a toy. It is a living being that needs a lot of attention. Do you think you can handle it?"
Teddy nodded solemnly.
"You need to make sure he has food and water and take him for walks. Everyday. You will be the one to clean up his mistakes until he is trained."
Teddy nodded again. "I promise, Daddy."
Giles smiled and ruffled his hair. "Good boy. Now, I know you've only had him for a few minutes, but do you have a name for him?"
Giles lifted an eyebrow in surprise. "Harris? Like Uncle Xander's last name?"
"I think it's a cool name." Teddy frowned, "Do you think he'll mind?"
Buffy walked up and put her arm around her son. "I think he'll love it." She handed Teddy a ball. "Why don't you see if you can teach Harris to fetch?"
Teddy took the ball and raced to the far end of the yard. He put the puppy down and the two began to play.
Buffy put her arms around her husband. "He'll be fine, Ru."
"I don’t doubt it for a minute. It there's one thing that a Giles is good at, it's responsibility."
"As long as it's the right kind of responsibility for a ten year old."
Giles nodded and thought back to his own 10th birthday, when he had been told about the Giles family tradition of being in the Council. He remembered the crushing burden that that tradition had placed upon his life. He thanked God that he had been given a chance to start a new Giles family tradition.
A tradition of love.