Stupid in the Sun He Lies


(He speaks, but to himself, being aware how it is with her)

Giles has moved his comfortable chair out here to the main table so he can keep an eye on the wolf while he works. Paperwork, mostly. He suspects the children think that his late hours at the library are spent researching spells and arcane demons, but far too much of a Watcher's job is simply paperwork. Submitting receipts for spell components used to avert small apocalypses, requisition forms explaining, in triplicate, why he needs the Council library's only copy of Palermo's Ascension. For some reason -- pride? -- he never lets the children see him fighting with Council bureaucracy. Having Oz's wolf here, prowling, imprisoned, blind, relieves the lonely tedium so much that it shames him. He likes to be around Buffy's children, not least the quiet boy with presumably unexplored depths, and if he can't have them awake and lucid he'll take the company of the wolf. Despite all its rage and fury.

Yet it hurts, so, to see this creature so unaware of his presence except as somewhat old and stringy prey. It's bad enough during the day. It's been years since he spent time around people who see him as a man: Rupert Giles. Only Ethan, lately, and isn't that a sad story to whinge about? The children don't really see him, and the fury of the wolf just makes it more obvious.

You cannot riddle the stout mail I wove
Long since, of wit and love.

The book cage -- ah, there's a laugh. No books of note; it's not like he would keep one-of-kind volumes behind a lock for which Snyder has a master key. Just weapons, and a collection of old and expensive-looking but essentially worthless books. 1962 editions of To Kill a Mockingbird and some Reader's Digest Condensed Books. Nothing important, unless you count the werewolf.

But still, a book cage. Books are as important as if he were the librarian he claims to be, instead of a lying old wizard distorted through a glass oh so darkly. Books that made the man. A child reading A Stranger at Green Knowe and daydreaming that he lives in a world where magic is benevolent and family history is comforting. An adolescent reading Couples and feeling the first foray into outré sexuality. A young man living in a vile flat with Ethan, making raunchy limericks from "The Ballad of Reading Gaol". A tweedy librarian forging relationships with a pack of earnest teens who sit around an uncomfortable table trying to make world-saving sense of 14th century woodcuts.

And a blue-haired boy staying behind after a routine Scooby meeting, just long enough to leave behind a dogeared copy of John McPhee's The Control of Nature. "Found this at Books for a Buck. Thought you might like it." Which Giles later returned with a glossy new paperback of The Great Divorce. Perforce began a friendship of sorts; swapped books, at any rate. No conversation, just a book left behind on Giles' desk, returned a week later with another. Little, Big for The Second Sex. Six Memos for the Next Millenium for Revolt of the Masses. Nor were they always so erudite. After working his way through V for Vendetta, Giles sent back Peyton Place. Sitting on his bedside table at home right now was The Westing Game, which he'd yet to begin.

A strange friendship, with almost no words exchanged except in Scooby contexts. But still, there in the book cage, the wolf prowls surrounded by symbols of the closest thing to a normal relationship Rupert Giles has found in California.

I will not war with you.

You know how wild you are. You are willing to be turned
To other matters; you would be grateful, even.

The wolf is a beast, but a relatively intelligent one. It hurls its bulk against the bars of the cage formulaically. Why waste energy attempting an escape route which has already failed? Why slam flesh against steel, letting warm blood blossom uselessly beneath canid muscle, when it will serve no purpose? It growls at Giles, periodically, perhaps trying to induce fear, so its frightened prey will make a mistake. But mostly it paces, and when Giles pokes a steak through the bars with a practice quarterstaff, the wolf falls to with an attention not merited by the meat itself.

Willow wouldn't approve, if she knew he were feeding raw meat to Oz. She didn't like anything that encouraged the wildness. But Giles remembers the furious power that coursed through his veins when he and Ethan and the gang experimented with chaos. He remembers wild nights of choler, drugs and alcohol, sometimes with magic but more often just with chemicals and lust. But most of all, he remembers the inchoate rage, the seething anger that was adolescence itself.

"Unseasonable?" you cry, with harsher scorn
Than the theme warrants; "Every year it is the same!
'Unseasonable!' they whine, these stupid peasants! -- and never since they were born
Have they known a spring less wintry! ..."

He wonders how Oz feels, in either form. Do the boy or the wolf experience the incoherent and inexplicable resentment which makes it impossible to focus? Does something tiny -- a passing car; a teacher's comments on a paper; the way Willow does her hair, perhaps -- cause a need, suddenly, to break and burn? Does the wolf need to have bones crunching in its jaws to fulfill urges more vital than hunger? Does the boy?

Giles has studied monsters all his life, and he still would not be able to tell whether the wolf is an entirely separate being, or the manifestation of something inside Oz.

And sob most pitifullly for all the lovely things that are not and have been.

He would be happier if Oz could lean on him. Hell, he would be happier if any of the children could lean on him, would talk with him, would let him lean on them. But that Oz could kill frightens them all too much to allow for speech, for comfort. He suspects that Oz and Willow never speak about the wolf even in private. A breeze, an empty book cage, Willow's untouched copy of The Call of the Wild, no Dingoes shows scheduled for the three nights of the full moon. This is the extent of their acknowledgment.

A library discard copy of The Westing Game on his bedside table. This is the extent.

You say; "You are very patient. You are very kind.
I shall be better soon. Just Heaven consign and damn
To tedious Hell this body with its muddy feet in my mind!"

In the morning, Oz dresses silently behind his sheet. With a half-smile and a shrug, he accepts the cup of tea that Giles hands to him. Giles watches as the boy leaves. Next month, when the moon comes around, he will be back.