Actions

Work Header

The Eye of the Storm

Work Text:

 

*

On Tuesday, mid-June, a tall young man knocked smartly upon the front door of 1630 Revello Drive. Nobody appeared to be home. He waited for a minute or two, hands in his blazer pockets, then made a circuit of the house. In the back garden, there was a child creeping through the bushes, playing pretend with sticks and stones. The back door was open.

“Right-o, Rupert.”

He nodded to himself, wiped his feet on the mat, and went inside.

*

On Tuesday, mid-June, it rained. Fat splotches fell from the sky, bouncing off the sidewalk and soaking the parched grass of Sunnydale’s gardens and parks and graveyards. It soaked Buffy Summers to the skin as she made her way back home, Watcher in tow, plastering her hair to her face. It soaked Giles, too, his shirt becoming almost see-through between tweed lapels, his glasses flecked with raindrops.

“I should have brought a brolly,” Giles said over the roar of the rain. “I’ll never get this jacket dry.”

They appeared at her home just as the storm broke. As the sun began to peep through the clouds, Buffy spotted a man creeping around the potted plants.

“Hey!” shouted Buffy. The young man didn’t look back. She turned to Giles. “Who d’you think that was?”

“I don’t know,” Giles replied, “but he seemed awfully familiar.”

*

On Tuesday, mid-June, Giles, or rather, Ripper made himself at home in Joyce Summers’ kitchen. Lock successfully picked and muddy boots toed off by the back door, he knelt on the countertop, fishing around in the cupboards for something suitable to eat.

He heard the click of the latch as he lowered himself down to the floor, bag of tortilla chips in hand. His expression one of careful nonchalance, he leant back against the countertop and waited. A few moments later, two people rounded the corner.

“Who the hell are you?” said the young woman.

He opened his mouth to reply when the man beside her said, “Of course.”

Behind him, another voice piped up. One that was terribly familiar.

“Hello,” it said. “I’m Rupert.”

*

On Tuesday, mid-June, several realities converged. Time and space began to curl and loop and knot, a tangle of four dimensions, the threads that held the universe together losing form and direction, like spaghetti on a plate, or unattended shoelaces at a child’s party.

In Sunnydale, in the kitchen of 1630 Revello Drive, three men stood drinking tea. All of them named Rupert Giles.

*

On Tuesday, mid-June, Giles said to himself, “I don’t remember this at all.”

And he replied, “Strange, isn’t it? Since I experienced this in your past, it would seem sensible that my future self would remember it in this present.”

“Are there more of us, do you think?” said Giles, this the youngest of the three. “I’m almost certain I saw a child earlier, playing soldiers amongst the shrubbery. Could be me.” He paused. “Well, us. Gosh, this is terribly confusing, isn’t it?”

They frowned collectively, removing their glasses to polish the lenses as they mulled the situation over.

“Perhaps we ought to number ourselves,” said one. “I’ll be One. I am the oldest.”

“Two,” said Two, the leather of his jacket creaking as he folded his arms.

Three merely scowled, hands rammed deep in the pockets of his blazer.

“Alright, amigos, what’s the plan?” said Buffy, who had been watching the men, or man, with something half way between amusement and horror.

“I don’t know,” they replied.

“Great.”

There was a pause.

“Well, I know what I’m going to do,” said One, who was dressed in tweed and dripping onto the kitchen tiles. “I’m going to get changed. Buffy, could I trouble you, er, for a change of clothes?”

*

On Tuesday, mid-June, three men and one woman stood in a kitchen and contemplated the nature of things. Of time and space and all the bits that go wrong in-between.

“I think it’s magic,” said Three.

“I think we’re fucked,” said Two. “Especially if it’s magic. You know how that goes.”

“Language,” said One. “Let’s not corrupt ourselves. Or spoil the future.”

“I’m fourteen,” said Three. “I’m not a child.”

“And if that’s my future, it can go fuck itself,” said Two, scowling at One in his tweed trousers and borrowed jumper.

“Yes, well, your future has a job,” replied One. “And doesn’t live in a squat with Deidre.”

“Piss off,” said Two.

“Who’s Deidre?” said Three.

“None of your business!” snapped One and Two in tandem.

Buffy simply sat and watched, highly entertained.

*

On Tuesday, mid-June, there was a second storm. At 3pm, the wind picked up and the skies began to darken. Rain, light at first, pattered against the window pain, growing in strength and ferocity as the seconds turned in to minutes. Half an hour in, the lightning began.

It was the same storm as before. As the wind screamed and the thunder rumbled and the rain poured, there was a flash, and BANG! Two and Three were gone (along the boy who might have been in the bushes).

*

On Tuesday, mid-June, Buffy sat down beside Giles on the couch, hot chocolate cradled between her fingers.

“So,” she said, settling back, “what was that all about?”

“Honestly?” Giles replied, picking with distaste at the borrowed sweater. It was large and black, and smelt a little of grave dust. “I have no idea.”

They sat in silence for a while, Buffy trying to think of a plausible explanation, and Giles trying not to think who the sweater belonged to.

“You know, Giles,” Buffy said after a while, smile on her lips, her mug half empty. “You were pretty studly when you were younger. Those bad boy vibes – I bet the girls were all over you.”

“Can we not?” he replied with a grimace. “It’s been a strange enough day as it is.”

*

Tuesday, mid-June, was complicated. And, as far as explanations went, it was probably best left at that.