Giles had once admitted to Jenny the importance that scent held for him. It had been the reason he hated computers, the lack of it. And whenever he catches a whiff of a particular type of flower it always seems to be able to work it's magic over him. Always, it stirs, to send him flying back through the years to a particular person, a particular moment in time. Even on the rare occasions that he wishes he could, it's something that he seems powerless to prevent. It's amazing how much something so small can do.
A beautiful summer morning, and the first thing Giles notices when he steps outside is that the Jasmine in the garden in front of his apartment is starting to bloom again. He pauses and inhales, simply enjoying the moment. The sun is warm on his skin and the rest of the day stretches before him, and there isn't much to be done. It would probably seem strange to anyone that didn't know, that it is the scent of Jasmine, which makes him think of Ethan Rayne.
He and Ethan had been the best of friends for near five years, before they took a step towards seriousness in their personal relationship, leaving the rest of the coven behind one night, when they scraped what little money they'd accumulated together and went out to a flash restaurant, in the good part of London. It is just the two of them, together.
Just about all the money they'd gained from hocked loot, and a little sold dope, went towards paying for the meal, complete with a bottle of fine red. It is meant to be the drink of elegance and romance, but at the first sip Ripper pulls a face at the sharp, dry flavour and wonders how anyone can stand such a drink, let alone enjoy it. He'd trade the whole bottle for one glass of decent absinthe any day. But still, piss is piss, and so they finish the bottle with no word of complaint, even though he catches Ethan pulling a face at the bottle himself.
After much debate the rest of the money went on securing a reasonably cheap hotel room, in an area of town where people keep their gossip and thoughts to themselves.
From the moment they enter the restaurant and sit down the scent of Jasmine is tickling at Ripper's nose. In the vase sitting on the centre of the table, there is a sprig of Jasmine among the rest of the flowers. And sitting on the bedside table, at the hotel they go to later, there is also Jasmine in the vase among the rest of the flowers.
It is strangely appropriate that it is this particular flower, which settles itself in his mind, tying itself irrevocably to Ethan Rayne. It is small and seemingly delicate, but can announce its presence to a room, and overpower anything else simply by being there. Even if it's in the middle of the bunch, it is impossible to ignore.
That night in the hotel room is the first time the Ripper has ever made love. That's not to say that he's never fucked, or been fucked before, just to say that this is the first time he's ever given his heart to the person he's been laying with.
And it is strangely; ironically appropriate that the Jasmine is coming into bloom again when the coven screws their summoning up, and the Ripper's hand is forced. On that night, it may have been only one friend that he has to kill physically, but in order to go through with it he has to kill his emotional ties to the rest of the coven. Things like that aren't easily undone.
After he's put the knife through Randall’s heart he heads out into the night without glancing back, and it is the scent of Jasmine, which follows him up the street.
Both the scent of Jasmine, and the sound of Ethan's voice which after having put the first block behind him he can still hear in his mind, pleading with him to come back home.
A mild April afternoon in Sunnydale when Giles passes by the flower shop, and turns back to linger outside the fount of it. The owner must have changed the display sometime between closing yesterday and opening today. For today, it is Lilacs and Violets - and Lavender.
And again Ripper is back in London and it's been nearly three months since he walked off into the night. Nine blocks from the place he once shared with Ethan and the rest of the coven is where Olivia lives with her grandmother, in a beautiful large house, surrounded by sprawling grounds and incredible gardens. Nine blocks, and he had not been back once.
Ripper had had a couple of one-night stand with Olivia when Ethan had been off his face, or out partying, or even just when he needed his own space away from the rest of the people he'd shared his life with, and throughout she had become a good friend. His relationship with Ethan had never been exclusive. He knew for a fact that Ethan had been with other people throughout the course of their relationship as well.
Maybe if there hadn't been others he'd have gone back and made Ethan return to sanity with him, but at the moment Ripper tries to deny himself all though of the ‘If Onlys’. They'll only fuck him over even more at the moment.
Olivia has been a nice escape. And, as she doesn't believe in magick, she is just what Ripper needed after everything he's been through. She comforted him through withdrawal from the drugs, magick and alcohol, and provided him with physical comfort when his longing for his old friends felt as though it were threatening to overwhelm him.
But still, just as it always has been, since age unknown, it seems to Rupert that all good things must draw to a close. And indeed, it's almost three months past since he arrived, that she looks at him with a rare seriousness. He knows, even before she says it, that he's going to have to leave.
"A letter arrived from father. He'll be back home early next week..."
A flash of pain over Ripper's face makes her trail off for a few moments. It is brief, and he has already steeled himself against any further. He tells himself that is it, that he won't let it get to him again.
She tries again, "I'm sorry Rupert, but he doesn't know anything about this, and honestly, it'd be easier for everyone involved if it stayed like that."
Honestly, truly, really, genuinely. They're all words of justification and attempted conviction. This time it is his anger that he steels himself against. He doesn't want to do anything that might hurt her. He genuinely believes that. That's why he can't linger over goodbyes.
Ripper's bag is always packed and it takes only moments for him to fish it out from under the bed they've been sharing. A few little nick-knacks, which he’d allowed to escape as he became settled, are quickly wrapped inside a shirt and put back. He then tugs out his leather jacket and pulls it on again. It has been sitting in his bag for just over a month now, and smells slightly musty, much like a home, which is given only a bi-weekly airing. But the warmth as he pulls it around his shoulders is as familial as a lovers embrace.
So is the chill embrace of the night air, as he steps out into it, on his way once again. The jacket warms his body, but he can do nothing about the chill that has spread around his heart.
The garden is filled with Lavender plants. They seem to flower all year round, and they had been the first of the things he noticed when he arrived here, just planning on asking if he could spend the night.
The first thing he noticed, and the final thing. Rather like coming full cycle. His life seems to be almost poetic like that.
But at least this time he can think clearly about his next move, consider it with a sober mind. One head of Lavender is torn free from a plant on the way past. He's not trying to be a romantic, taking a keepsake. It's simply a small way of venting a tiny bit of the emotion he's currently feeling, for lack of a better target. Still, it will sit in the pocket of his jacket until it has dried, and it's penetrating scent is no longer around to tickle at his nostrils. When he next pulls it out, he will be back home with his parents, and able to think about good times as well as the pain.
It is Valentines Day when Giles notices that the display in the florist's has changed again. He doesn't need to enter the shop in order to inhale the scent of the
Roses simply to remember Jenny. The sight of them alone is enough to do that, filling him with a sense of sadness and longing.
It was an age between Jenny and Olivia. A lifetime, before he allowed himself to discover that he could love again.
Brown hair and dark eyes, lithe frame. Skilled hands and beautiful lips. Magick and sex. Janus is a God of Light and Darkness, of Male and Female - opposites, and
Jenny could have been Ethan feminised. But that's something he choses to ignore. He can appreciate her far better as a wholly unique person, if he makes himself forget about Ethan. But there is still so much the same, even thought it stands in direct opposition. Jenny is light and purity. There are none of the dark, rough edges that he had loved about Ethan.
It was true that things hadn't been perfect between them, but couldn't the same be said about any relationship? They'd both screwed up royally, Giles by denying his past (momentary fear that Jenny, or one of the children would take one look at Ethan, and know, and hate him for it) and Jenny by trying to ignore the reason she'd been sent to Sunnydale because she could see a beauty between Angel and Buffy, which she didn't want to destroy.
Not perfect, but they had worked through the issues, and were starting to bond once again, and open up to one another more. Honesty became a huge factor, and they'd agreed to level the playing field between them.
Jenny was the first serious relationship that he doesn't let himself walk away from. He won't allow himself to take the time he spends with her for granted, because he knows now, from past experience, how suddenly things can take a turn for the worse. How quickly, even thoughtlessly, love can be ended.
And things don't have a chance to truly sour to the point where he would consider giving up this new chance at love.
Jenny had retaught him things that he'd forgotten. She'd reminded him that magick and pain didn't necessarily need to go hand in hand. She'd reminded him that it could be fun as well. And for that, he will always cherish her in the depths of his heart and thoughts.
Ethan played merry havoc with Birthdays and ignored Christmas entirely. Easter was only noticed because a handful of change was easily swiped from a collection plate, and likewise Halloween for candy. Ethan, high on a pure sugar rush was an impossible factor to ignore. In fact, there were only two days in the entire year, which Ethan thought of as significant enough to pay respects to, and properly heed.
The first was the ninth of January, which was recognized as the feast of Janus. In the old days he and Ripper would have spent the day tied up in performing dedicatory rituals. He had rather enjoyed playing with Chaos, and the influx of power granted by Janus, just as much as Ethan had back then. Then, later on during the day they would all share in what was actually a rather elaborate meal, which everyone had chipped in for the day before.
The only other day in the year fell on the day exactly three weeks after Valentines. This was what Ethan regarded as his and Ripper's anniversary. It was the anniversary of that night in the hotel. And no matter how corny, or sappy it seemed, he never let it pass without regard.
Wakening on the morning of their anniversary is something that Ripper always enjoys. The usual scent of smoke, from a joint, or incense which had been lit for their latest magick workings, or even simply from a regular cigarette, is covered up by the scent of Jasmine, a vase of which is always left sitting on the bedside table. And he can hear sounds from the kitchen downstairs.
There is Ethan's voice raised in a sad attempt at song, as he moves around downstairs. This is the only time of year anyone is game enough to let him have free reign, and there is always someone on hand with a spell to extinguish flames. It's not that he can't make a good end product; it's just that the procedure he usually goes through to procure it would be better suited for the lab of a mad alchemist. When Ethan cooks, things tend to go up in flames. He's blackened the wall simply by boiling water a couple of times.
The others tend to take Ethan's little burst of madness in good humour though. And there's no way Giles is going to complain about having a full English Breakfast brought in to him, as he lays in bed, usually recovering from the night before. The lack of decent meals is one of the few things that Giles will admit to missing about his former home.
And the early morning romp under the covers, which has a habit of following, tends to leave a lack of things to complain about as well.
It has been just over a year since Giles paused outside the flower shop, and stood, reminiscing about Jenny, and what they'd had together.
For so long, his bed has been empty, aside from himself, and the only people that he would be able to call upon as friends, still all go to high school. Loneliness for him becomes more acute, rather then dispersing, and the intensity of the emotion, which was something he'd once tried to avoid, is becoming increasingly difficult to deal with.
Even in a state of half sleep, he can tell that something, which shouldn’t be, is. Lying in bed he draws a deep breath, which is meant to be calming. Instead, it fills his nose with a scent, half-remembered, which fills him with a deep sense of longing.
Even as he rolls over to open his eyes he has no wish to dispel the pleasant dream, which still seems to be lingering. He doesn't need to reach over and grab his glasses in order to tell that the sprig of Jasmine, which has been left sitting in the old, chipped mug on his bedside table, is really there. And he can hear a sound drifting up from downstairs, which most other people would only ever describe as God-Awful. But it is a sound that brings a smile to him.
The lesson he learned with Jenny, to grab at love with everything he has, while the chance is there, is what makes a difference today. It is what fills him with gratefulness, instead of the façade of riotous anger, which he has struggled to so often maintain, in his dealing with Ethan, in the past.
Today is the day, which used to be their anniversary. Ethan has probably chosen the day on purpose, for that very reason, but Rupert's life has always had a poetic feeling like that. Everything comes full cycle.
It is with a genuine, warm smile on his face, and old affection in his eyes that Rupert "Ripper" Giles rises from a bed, which has been empty for far too long, and heads downstairs to welcome his intruder home.