They Can’t Take That Away From Me
By Ananda

Title: They Can’t Take That Away From Me

Author: Ananda, ananda1@mailcity.com

Rating: PG-13

Spoilers: Set post season 4 but I don’t think there are any spoilers.

Feedback: Yes please, this is my first attempt at sad fic.

Disclaimer: Buffy etc belongs to Joss, Mutant Enemy and Warner Bros. The idea, sitaution and dialogue of this story are by Margery Allingham. She called the story "The Secret" and it’s found in "Mr Campion’s Lucky day and Other Stories", published by Chatto and Windus Ltd 1973. The version I’ve adapted was published by Penguin Books in 1992. It is copyrighted to P. and M. Youngman Carter Ltd, 1973.

Notes: This story is an adaptation of "The Secret", a short story by Margery Allingham. When I read it I thought how well it would fit Buffy and Giles, so I adapted it. It is not original.

The title is from a song which is sung by Fred Astaire to Ginger Rogers on a ferry in the fog in the film Shall We Dance (I think) I can’t remember who wrote it, sorry.

Dedication: To my mother for introducing me to Campion, and to Margery Allingham for writing him.


The key fidgeted in the lock, grated and was silent. Then the door swung quietly open and a wave of cold air flew into Giles’ face from the dark doorway.

He stood in his doorway, unwilling to enter the univiting flat, then groped for the familliar light switch. He was still the same as he had been a year ago when he had last left this flat. His hair was a little greyer but his eyes, tired and infinitely older than the rest of his face, surveyed his dark empty flat with the same dispasionate interest they had always had. He dropped his case and took off his raincoat, protection against the heavy Californian rain.

His coat was still in his hand when he saw her. She had risen from the leather sofa in the corner of his living room and even at his moment of return to this chilly, dank flat the reason why she should be there, alone in the dark with no heating on such a cold day was a puzzle to him.

The girl in front of him was small, almost a child though her eyes were older. Sleek shining blond hair hung around her beautiful face just as he remembered. She was fragile though, for all her implied strength, as though a single breath would have blown her away.

That curious, almost ethereal fragility had increased, he noticed. She had not found it so easy then.

She did not speak, but stood looking at him, her eyes bright and shy, her lips questioning. Now the moment had come words deserted him. He had rehearsed this moment many times since he had decided he had to return to her.

"I’ve missed you." He said lamely.

Still she didn’t speak and suddenly he lost control. His well thought out explanations and arguments were swept away by one look from her green eyes. He stumbled towards her.

"I’ve come back" Giles said, "Oh Buffy, I’ve come back."

She drew away from him, not resentfully but almost reluctantly. He stiffened.

"I know…I’m sorry." He said dully and sat down on the arm of the sofa, shoulders slumped.

Now that he was still she moved closer, perching on the farther end of the sofa, her feet on the seat, arms clasping her knees. For a long time they sat in silence and the room was very cold.

"I’m not so bad Buffy," he said, "only ordinary."

She stirred, moved towards him and back again.

"You’ve only just come back?" She said, and her voice was quiet and thin.

Giles nodded, "Yes, I’ve been driving all day, trying to persuade myself to face up to things, not to run away. I knew I couldn’t expect you to welcome me back with open arms, but I had to see you and find out if you still loved me."

"You want to come back?" She asked, and there was something in her voice which he didn’t understand. He looked up at her.

"You’re not angry are you?"

"Angry? Oh no." She said and looked down at her feet.

Once again he reached out a hand to her but she drew back, shrinking away from his touch as though she were afraid of it, but he had the odd impression that it was not him she was afraid of.

He thought he understood and continued,

"She left me, Olivia," he said jerkily, " a chap in London had more money. I was glad. I knew I’d made a mistake even then. I left and went back to Yorkshire. I’ve been there ever since. I thought I could get over it. I didn’t want to come back after I left you. I love you Buffy. I can’t live without you."

He glanced at her and saw passionate sympathy in her eye. He went on talking, it made it easier if he talked.

"I was alone for months, I didn’t even see a newspaper, no one knew where I was. Finally I made up my mind. I want to marry you Buffy, right away. I always wanted it, but you were so young. I thought it was better if I just left. Olivia was a way out, I suppose, but I realised how much I love you. I want to marry you now, will you let me?"

Buffy shook her head. There were tears in her eyes and her body drooped as though she were overcome by some terrible secret tragedy.

"Please Buffy, forgive me. I want you to marry me. I want to start again."

He had risen and came towards her, his arms outstretched.

"Buffy, don’t look at me like that, please. What’s the matter?"

She started back from him.

"Don’t touch me." She whispered. "Whatever you do don’t touch me. You mustn’t love me Giles, you must go away."

The sofa was now between them and he knelt on it, pleading with her.

"I won’t go. I love you Buffy. I’ve never loved anyone but you. Don’t you remember our kiss in the cemetery, when we told your mother you were moving in with me, our first night here together, alone. Don’t look at me like that Buffy. What’s the matter?"

She was staring at him, tears trickling down her face.

"It was the beginning of a new life for me."

He closed his eyes.

"Don’t talk like that Buffy. She just swept me away. It was like I couldn’t breathe. But I’ve come back. We can go away like you wanted, a normal life. We’ll go to England, like you wanted."

"No, we can’t go together. You mustn’t want me to." She spoke intensely and the realisation that something was seriously wrong forced itself upon his disordered mind.

"Why not?" He said. She stood a foot away from him, eyes fixed compellingly on his face.

"Giles, you must go away from here alone. I can’t come with you. You must forget me, make your mind shut me out. It will be less hard for you."

"No!" He said wildly. "No, I love you. Don’t send me away…please, please don’t send me away."

"Go away." She repeated. "Go away quickly. Don’t think of me. Don’t want me. I can never come with you."

"You’ve said that before, what’s stopping you?" he asked slowly.

"I can’t tell you." She answered, drawing back form him and speaking in a low agonised tone. "Don’t try to find out."

"There’s some reason you can’t come, some secret?"

She nodded and the apprehension in his heart grew.

"But my dear," he said, "if we love each other there’s nothing to keep us apart, not Angel, not Olivia, not the Hellmouth."

She retreated to the centre of the room watching him wistfully.

"I can’t come Giles, love doesn’t always find a way. Oh my darling," she said brokenly, "I can’t come. You’ll find out soon, but not now…please not now. Don’t make it happen now."

"I have to know." He persisted. "Don’t you see, it means all our life…Oh God, I can’t let you go again. I won’t."

His voice broke helplessly on the last word and she took a step towards him, her face twisted with pain.

"I love you," she said, " I always loved you. Believe that Giles. But I can’t come with you now."

He looked around at the cold flat.

"Nothing has changed here you know, even you. You’re exactly the same, your clothes, your hair." He stared at her, the chill in the room eating into his bones.

"Are you with someone else then, Riley?" He asked.

"No."

"You’re free then?"

She nodded wearily. "Free, terribly, terribly free."

"You can marry me then?"

"No, never Giles."

She backed away from him.

"It’s too late. We can never be married now. Remember, don’t think of me afterwards. You mustn’t think of me."

She retreated across the room her back towards the heavy curtains which hung across the window. He followed her.

"I can’t stand anymore of this!" He said. "I love you, you love me. I’m coming to kiss you. My darling, we belong to one another. There’s nothing can separate us."

She stretched out her hand as though to ward him off, and her voice was quiet and breathless.

"Don’t…don’t. There is something between us, something enormous. I can’t come. Oh Giles, don’t you see? I can’t come."

He stared at her and a fraction of the truth dawned on him.

"Buffy," he said, "what have you done?"

"Oh, Giles."

"Buffy," he was hysterical, "what is the secret?"

A breath parted the curtains and she stepped back into their folds. Her voice was sorrowful and had utter tragedy in its tone.

"Don’t you understand…Giles…I killed myself."

The curtains slipped back over her and he leapt forward and swept them wide. Beyond was the high white window with dark rain lashing against the tightly shut glass.

END