Title: An Englishman’s Home
Setting: Giles. Pre-series
Special thanks to littleotter73 without whose spelling and grammar none of this would have made sense. All glaring errors are still mine all mine.
Written for the Drunken!Giles ficathon 2012.
Prompt: A dead demon, a mild concussion, and a... love-bite? Giles' first night in Sunnydale is memorable for a number of reasons. He just wishes he knew what they were...
Author notes: I may have deviated from the prompt a tad…..
An Englishman’s Morning After
Rupert Giles woke up on the floor of his new Sunnydale apartment and wondered why the devil everything hurt so much? It felt like he’d been drinking which would be deplorable given he’d only been in California a day and getting plastered shouldn’t have been his first order of business. A cautious sniff confirmed he smelt like a distillery. He groaned.
His life had been ripped upside down all rather suddenly but it puzzled him he couldn’t remember drinking, indeed couldn’t remember the night before at all. He remembered he’d arrived and met up with his shipping crates. He’d started to unpack rather sadly, leaving his precious books till last because he hadn’t seen the point. He faced the hideous prospect of working in an
In his self-pitying haze it gradually struck him that he was lying on the floor for no reason given that a bed had been part of the semi-furnished tenancy. He opened his eyes and raised his head. His packing crates were sprawled half opened around him and a harsh light streamed in from the bedroom loft window.
He sat up and made some further observations: i. There was no sign of his glasses. ii. He’d lost his shirt someplace. iii. He seemed to have a tremendous stabbing pain in his neck. iv. He seemed to have the dead body of seventy year-old lady on the floor next to him. He looked in horror at the carving knife sticking from her chest. It was one of a set his mother had bought him and evidently one of the few crates he had unpacked. The woman was short with long grey hair and looked like everybody’s favourite grandmother. It was all a bit worrying really because no matter how he sliced it, she looked distressingly human and a deeply unlikely opponent in a knife fight.
He became aware that a heavy insistent knocking wasn’t hangover related and actually meant there was someone at the front door. He groaned to his feet. Try to stay out of trouble his father had said at the airport. Dear Lord, it had gone really well so far. He’d only been in the country 24 hours and he already had a dead body on the hearth rug. Even his father would be forced to concede that this constituted a new personal best.
There was still no sign of his glasses but he found a sweater with which to answer the door. As he pulled it over his head he brushed against his painful neck and realised there was dried blood from a nasty wound. The knocking determined any investigation was going to have to wait, so with a final check that his new 'conversation piece' was out of line of sight from the door, he opened it very gingerly.
There were two armed Sunnydale Police Officers on his porch, neither of whom looked like they played good cop. One of then rested a hand casually on the handle of his nightstick and used the universal cop-voice of intimidation.
An Englishman’s Night Before
He was definitely being mocked by inanimate objects. His brain screamed at him that he was in trouble and that he needed to stop fixating on such small details but he was too preoccupied with his hand-eye coordination to pay much attention. For a start his front door seemed to be taking the piss. Either the key didn’t seem to fit the lock or, because it was dark and gloomy and he was unfamiliar with the door, maybe it didn’t have a key hole? Or maybe it wasn’t his door at all? That was a world of embarrassment to meet the neighbours with.
A small female hand tugged the key from him and muttered Oh for goodness sake. Giles stood transfixed as the elderly woman worked the miracle of reacquainting him with his new apartment and all his worldly possessions. She hit the light switch and strode in confidently; Giles puffed his cheeks and followed meekly behind.
“Thanks terribly,” he said. “I’m not usually such a lightweight. Drinking on jet lag. Bad show.”
She didn’t seem interested in his explanation. She kept her back to him and reviewed the apartment through the chaos of his first day of unpacking. Shipping crates lay in stacks, with kitchenware and clothes having erupted all around. Giles’ head was swimming at the relative glare of the lights. He’d only seen the place in daylight. His guest tutted and removed her coat with a great deal of purpose. Her long grey ponytail fell against the back of the very proper dark blue skirt suit she wore. He wished he could remember her name. He’d been awake for 36 hours with the flying and immigration and trying to get to grips with his new apartment and he couldn’t even remember where he’d met her. He felt massively impolite.
She however seemed to taking no umbrage. She moved into the kitchen area and started opening cupboards and drawers, inspecting the cooker and the refrigerator with something of a proprietary zeal. Giles was pretty addled but he didn’t remember the tenancy lease saying anything about a flatmate. He wondered if she was going to make him a cup of tea.
“Was there something I can help you with?” he asked airily. She turned and eyed him so piercingly he actually winced.
“How tall are you?” she demanded. “How much do you weigh?”
She had a direct approach that unnerved him to a stammered answer. “Six foot one and one hundred and eighty pounds.”
She looked at her watch and blurred off down the corridor to his bathroom.
“Right, you just er,…right then” Giles realised there was no good way to end that sentence.
She was exhibiting very strange behaviour, but then she was old, in her seventies so maybe she needed his bathroom? He could hardly throw her out if she needed the bathroom. Actually he could hardly do much at all. He hoped she would leave him alone soon. Her behaviour was very strange even by librarian standards. Librarian? He suddenly remembered where they had met. She was the Sunnydale High librarian whose job he was taking. He’d been unpacking when he’d gotten a call summonsing him to meet her after school finished that day. She was retiring, though she’d given little indication of being the retiring type. She’d given him a silvery laugh. My body is old and frail, not my mind, she’d explained, everything wears out and needs replacing eventually. The school principal had been pushing for her to retire, but she’d insisted on handpicking her successor. She had rejected all the other candidates’ resumes until his arrived.
“Yours stood out, Mr Giles,” she’d said in the small office attached to the library.
“Thanks awfully,” he’d answered, blushing a little.
“Oh yes, an Englishman with no friends or family in the area.” He’d made a silly joke on the lines of would that all jobs were so easy to get but she hadn’t even smiled. Instead she’d poured him a sherry to celebrate his arrival and her departure. He hadn’t wanted it but was too polite to refuse. It had tasted a bit like gun oil. Funnily enough he’d only had the one and yet that was when his brain had immediately started to scream he was in trouble.
He took his jacket off awkwardly and dropped it on the floor of his apartment. He’d had no car but she had been kind enough to offer to drive him home. She’d been interested in where he lived, who he knew, for instance, had he met any of his neighbours? He didn’t look well. It was no bother at all. It is the least I can do. Giles began to see multicoloured flashes in the lights as he waited for her to leave his bathroom. He’d felt like this before and giggled to himself that the only possible solution was to have more alcohol. He lurched to his flight bag and retrieved the single malt he’d bought on the plane. It was an awful waste but he ripped open the cardboard box like a man who’d missed a meeting. He found a tea cup and sloshed it to the brim.
His visitor came back, still nameless to his memory. “Is everything OK?” he asked pleasantly, but she just ignored him again and swept up the stairs to his loft bedroom. Giles stared after her heels and then at the patterned tiles on the steps and then drank the full cup of scotch in three huge gulps. He half poured, half spilt some more and leaned against the counter hatch. He wondered if he was supposed to join her and hiccupped a giggle at the thought. He chugged more scotch and waited.
“I like this place,” she enthused on her return down the stairs. “The big open space is different. You’re not claustrophobic are you?”
“No. I didn’t chose it, it was part of the deal.”
“Ah yes,” she smiled. “Your family arranged everything didn’t they?” The Council were his family of sorts. It had been easier to explain things that way.
“Yes. They sent me here. I’m supposed to wait.”
“Bit of a black sheep aren’t we?” She walked up to his counter. Giles backed into it nervously.
“Greyish maybe. There’s a girl. But she’s not here.” He’d probably said too much but focusing his mind was getting harder.
“Grey sheep always interest me. They are so much easier to detach from the flock. Nobody wants them, ergo, nobody misses them.” She approached very close and studied him.
“Are those glasses for reading or for distance?” she demanded.
Giles pulled them off his face and thought about it.
“Um distance mainly. Well this has been nice but it’s getting terribly late and shouldn’t you be heading for…?” He couldn’t remember where she’d told him she was going, in the library office, before the sherry.
She gave him an odd smile. Giles eyes were starting to play tricks on him but she looked almost feral. He dashed his glasses onto the counter top, barely registering the slight spitty noise as they hit the floor behind. His strange guest meanwhile compounded her scary smile by turning to his front door and locking it. Giles drank some more of his scotch rather hurriedly.
“I’m not going to have to get you a new liver am I?” she frowned in disapproval and took the bottle from his hand easily, his treasured possession lost to the seas. “Let’s get you to the bedroom.”
“Blimey!” he nearly choked. “But you’re about a hundred years old,” he spluttered somewhat ungallantly.
“Six hundred and thirty-four but who’s counting.”
She took his arm and led him up the stairs like a child. She had no strength beyond her slender frame but Giles had no resistance or alternate plan so he stumbled up as best he could. A heavy step was missed and he tumbled but she urged him upwards.
At the top of the stairs he saw a row of candles had been lit and the clothes on the bed had been moved to the top of the trunk.
“You’ve redecorated,” he slurred. “That’s jolly feng shui of you.” Before slumping face down on the bed.
“Take you shirt off.”
“Madam,” he started to mutter into the mattress.
“Come on we don’t have time for coy,” she insisted but Giles was spent. None of his limbs wanted to work. He felt her cut the fabric from his back and turned in surprise. She had got a hold of his best carving knife and made short work of his sleeves, catching him in the neck as she slashed. The blood dripped onto the mattress and as he turned sharply to defend himself he saw a large sinister green lantern she’d also lit. Wisps of smoke were being drawn into it rather than from it.
“That’s not mine,” he drawled.
She gave him her silvery laugh. “Oh but it is. I made it specially.” She produced the strange sherry from her bag and poured liberally on his chest as if following a recipe.
“Bloody hell woman.” The cut on his neck stung like the blazes. The green lantern burned a little brighter.
“You see Rupert, I’ve fed off the Hellmouth for hundreds of years and when they built a high school I found a way to continue to feed. I have to be close to it. Nobody ever notices the librarian. They come to Sunnydale with their sad little lives, escaping the disappointment of their families. They expect it to be sunny and happy but I am waiting for them. Nobody misses them. Just as nobody will miss you.”
“Because you are stupid like all the rest, but you are young and strong. The human frame is weak so I have to take a new body whenever a suitable candidate appears. You have so many gaps in your resume, and you know nobody in Sunnydale, nor even in the State of
“And you’re a demon. One that needs to occupy a human body in order to survive.”
“Bright boy.” She held up the lantern. “I require an empty human body. Your lifeforce has been draining from you ever since you drank that first toast in my office. The ritual is almost complete, when I blow out this lantern you will be dead and I will have a new host to transfer into.”
“I really rather wish you wouldn’t.”
“Fortunately it’s not up to you. And I don’t see anyone coming to save you Rupert, do you?”
They had told him to wait for the Slayer. Wait in this dull arse town for a Slayer whose existence he hadn’t really believed in. He was all alone and his parents would never know what had happened to him.
She blew out the lantern in triumph and all the other candles extinguished simultaneously. For a time the only noise was Giles’ travel clock ticking on the bed stand.
Eventually Giles sniffed. “If you don’t mind my saying so, that seemed a bit of an anti-climax.”
“I don’t understand.” She rushed to relight the lantern. Giles lurched up to his feet with far more strength then he supposed he had.
“Don’t bother. Funny thing about my lifeforce and my body, we’re awfully attached. I don’t know what the hell was in that homebrew sherry but I know magick when I taste it. I also know that several belts of honest single malt scotch can block a hell of a lot of demon potions.”
“You’re brighter than you look.”
He lumbered around to the foot the bed to face her. She stood between the banisters with the large carving knife his mother had given him as part of a set for his fortieth birthday. The big one he kept sharp for poultry and lamb bones.
“Thank you. Got to be honest. I’ve not drunk half a bottle as quickly as that for about 20 years. Going to feel like hell in the morning.”
She reminded him of the big knife coolly. “You’re not going to feel like anything tomorrow, Rupert Giles. I’m just going to have to remove the life from your body the old fashioned way.”
On several previous occasions during his life, Giles had surprised himself with the strength of his determination. And now, faced with the prospect of infinite rest, he damn well decided he wanted to live forever, just as much as this demon did. He mustered all his dignity and held up a hand.
“Madam, or now that I think about it, quite possibly sir,” he paused as he steadied himself on his feet. “There are a couple of things you have overlooked.”
She raised a disbelieving eyebrow. “Such as?”
“Six foot one and one hundred and eighty pounds.” Giles launched himself at her, taking both of them over the stairs. His scull cracked hers and they thundered on, rolling and gasping, crunching at the corner but his momentum crushing them onwards. She was lithe but he had bulk. She managed to make some contact with the knife but it twisted from her hands and she lost the battle of density and gravity. Giles felt pain in his knee, his back, his neck and his head as they careered on. They hit the bottom and smashed into packing crates. Then he felt darkness and then nothing at all.
An Englishman is home
“Rupert Giles?” Policemen the world over must be trained to make a person’s name an accusation of guilt. Giles fought the childish urge to answer ‘why?’ or possibly or even ‘No’, instead he managed to nod and say “Mmm?”
“Are you aware there’s a grey 1963 Citroën DS licence plate 2GPU947 parked outside?”
“Umm… No.” He thought about it. No, he really wasn’t. “Why?”
“It used to belong to Miss Ursula Johnson.”
“That was her name!” Giles exclaimed rather suddenly. The body on his floor had a name. Used to belong? Past tense, past tense. They knew what he’d done. He tried not to panic. “Oh?” He wasn’t sure his fake nonchalance and his guilt were a convincing mix. However the police officer broke into a smile.
“It’s OK sir. The mayor’s office asked us to drop by and give you this. She transferred ownership to you yesterday. So it’s your car now. I don’t suppose she’ll need it where she went.”
Giles studied the official papers as little puffs of playback memories of the night before ran in his mind. She’d tried to … she was a … which meant she wasn’t a … and had she mentioned the word Hellmouth? Sunnydale had a Hellmouth? He needed to consult his books. The odds of a Slayer coming to this town had greatly improved. This was just brilliant.
“Right. Yes. That’s probably, yes.” He petered out with a far away look in his eye having lost interest in the police completely. He’d need to dispose of the body of course, and finish his unpacking. Things were definitely looking up.
“Are you alright Mr Giles? We thought we lost you there for a bit.”
“Oh no, I’m very much here still. Yes. Oh well thanks awfully for this. Mustn’t chat. Unpacking, Busy. Books. Body. Buy some milk. The usual stuff to do.” he said brightly. He could see in their eyes they were weighing him up as certifiable but they seemed to settle on eccentric, or possibly just English.
“OK. Well you have a nice day and welcome to your new home, sir.”
Giles nodded an acknowledgement and as they left, broke into a broad grin because he couldn’t wait to phone his dad and tell him that Sunnydale wasn’t going to be quite so dull after all.