This One Does

Part Five

He told Buffy first, and was startled by the way she reacted, screaming and crying and asking over and over how he could do this to her. It baffled him, the way could she push him away with one hand and suddenly try to pull him close with the other. And just as suddenly he was angry, the pressure that had been building for months now exploding, and he told her she was a self-centered child and that she only wanted him there to do her dirty work, and she responded by accusing him of being just like her father and abandoning her, and they railed at one another for over half an hour before he finally held up his hands in surrender.

“Buffy, please,” he said. “Let’s not do this, I’m sorry.”

“Stay,” she demanded, tears streaming down her face.

“No,” he said, still convinced that he was doing the right thing despite the fact that breaking her heart was breaking his.

She turned on her heel and started to leave.

“Buffy, please, wait,” he called. “I’m leaving in the morning.”

“So leave, then,” she spat, stalking away. “Everyone else does. Dad did.”

He wiped his hand over his mouth. He was not Buffy’s father, he told himself, and this was not the same thing.

“I love you,” he murmured, but he was speaking to an empty room.


He sat in the courtyard outside his flat for half an hour, on the verge of simply running and hiding, getting a room for the night and leaving first thing the next morning, when the door opened and Spike stood there, staring at him. “You been sittin’ there forever,” he said, frowning. “What’s goin’ on? You comin’ in or what?”

Giles sighed and got to his feet, sliding past Spike through the doorway and moving to sit on the couch.

“I know somethin’s wrong,” Spike said. “You gonna let me in on it?”

Giles scrubbed at his face wearily. “Spike, I’m leaving tomorrow morning for England.”

 “What? Kinda short notice, don’t you think? When you comin’ back?”

Giles stared at his hands in silence.

“Bloody hell. You ain’t comin’ back, are you.” A statement, not a question, Spike’s voice quiet but full of hurt and confusion.

“No. I don’t plan on returning, except perhaps to visit. And even then, it won’t be for a very long time.”


Giles sighed. “Buffy. All of them, really, but Buffy, mostly. She’s become too dependent on me and I can’t keep cleaning up the messes she and Dawn insist on making.”

“Watcher, you just bleedin’ found out what she’s been goin’ through, and you decide to leave now? I never figured you to be that kind of utter prick,” Spike muttered, disgust evident in his voice.

Suddenly Giles was on his feet, shouting. “I don’t give a bloody damn what she’s been going through! She could have told me months ago, when I could have helped her, but she insisted on keeping it to herself, and whatever sort of trouble she gets into now is her own fault! Do you realize what I’ve had to put up with for the past six months? Cleaning up after her, paying her goddamned bills, chasing Dawn all over Sunnydale when she takes the whim to go truant, not to mention losing a girl as special as Willow to the magick and being completely helpless to do anything about, and God, Xander, that foolish, beautiful boy, with his utterly stupid plans to get married AND THERE’S NOT A GODDAMNED THING I CAN DO TO FIX ANY OF THAT! Do you hear me? I CAN’T FUCKING FIX IT! I love ALL of them but I can’t fucking fix any of this! They’ve got to grow up, Spike, and they won’t do it while I’m here, they’ll just keep running to me and I’ll just keep taking care of things and they’ll never grow up and I’ll never fucking SLEEP!”

Spike stared at him through narrowed eyes. “So this is all about you, then,” he said.

“YES! It’s about me wanting them safe and sound, all of them, and being utterly unable to make that happen, no matter what I do or say! They’ve got to do this alone, Spike, they’re adults and it’s goddamned time, and if I stay here I’ll keep interfering and that cannot continue!”

He collapsed suddenly on to the couch, rage gone and now, simply tired down to his very bones.

“And what about me?” Spike asked quietly.

“What about you?” Giles asked tiredly

“You’re not just leavin’ them, you’re leavin’ me.”

“I realize that,” Giles said softly.

“You don’t care?”

“Of course I care. But it’s time we end this.”


“Because of what you are. Because of what I am.”

“We talkin’ about your fuckin’ humanity again?” Spike spat, voice brittle.

Giles rubbed at his face. “Partially. You’re immortal, I am not, how could this have been anything but temporary, especially as far as you’re concerned? At best I’ve got 30 years, but considering the kind of life I lead I’ll be lucky to make it into next week. Don’t tell me you haven’t thought of that.”

“No,” Spike said, voice starting to shake. “All I’ve thought about is you.”

“Spike, please . . .” Giles whispered, exhausted and hurting and hating every fucking moment of this.

“Please what? Say it’s okay for you to fuckin’ leave me, to leave us? You said that you loved me, more than once, and now I’m supposed to give you permission to leave, soothe your guilty fuckin’ conscience? ‘Cause I ain’t doin’ that, Rupert, you ain’t leavin’ for the greater good, for Buffy and the rest and for me, what you’re doin’ is fuckin’ runnin’, things get too hot and you bloody well run, you goddamned coward!”

“Call it whatever you like,” Giles snapped. “But I’m still leaving in the morning.”

Spike stared at him for a long time, the whole of him trembling and eyes wide with hurt and a hint of hate, and then he slammed out of the flat.

“I love you,” Giles whispered, once again speaking to an empty room.


 . . . “Why do you hate him so much?”

“Because he left me.” . . .


He lay awake and wide-eyed, restless and staring at the ceiling, having second thoughts and fighting in turn urges to seek out both Buffy and Spike, then remembering the insanity of the entire situation and his jaw would set and his resolve to leave would return, and when he heard the front door open quietly he tensed, waiting, unsure of what to expect.

Suddenly Spike was beside the bed, silent, and after a long moment he began to strip slowly and Giles watched with bittersweet pleasure as he did so. “Spike,” he whispered when Spike was finally nude, running his eyes over the length of Spike’s taut body.

“Shut up,” Spike snarled and then flung himself at Giles hard, slamming him back into the mattress, pinning him down and kissing him brutally, a bruising attack of lips and teeth, and once again Giles felt his blood surge and his body scream and he responded in kind, biting and sucking at Spike’s tongue and lips and leaving marks on his neck, grunting in frustration at his helplessness to do more with Spike keeping him pinned, then Spike slid astride his lap and he bucked up hard, gasping at the feel of Spike’s cock against his, reveling in it, and he did it again and again, struggling all the while to free himself from Spike’s iron grip, needing to touch him, run his hands and mouth over his body, and Spike groaned and lifted himself up, just out of reach of Giles’ touch, pinning his wrists with his hands and his thighs with his knees.

“You want me?” he growled, teasing him with a slight thrust of his hips.

“Fuck, yes,” Giles whispered, still struggling.

“Then say it,” Spike ordered, voice hard. “Fuckin’ say it!”

Giles’ stared up at him, trying to read his eyes through the gloom. “I love you,” he murmured.

Spike leaned in for another bruising kiss before pulling away again and Giles nearly screamed in frustration. “Say it again.”

“I love you.”


“I love you, love you, love you, goddammit, Spike, I . . .”

Suddenly Spike was draped all over him, his touch now gentle and his mouth on Giles’ soft, cool skin sliding like silk over hot, damp flesh, and he released Giles’ hands and Giles groaned, one hand going to the back of Spike’s head to pull him closer so that he could kiss him more deeply, tongue thrusting into his mouth, his other hand roaming over Spike’s back and ass, pulling him tight and rubbing up against him with quick jerks of his hips, and Spike moaned and pulled away slightly.

“I love you, too, Watcher,” he whispered. “But I hate you even more for doin’ this to me.”

“Spike . . .”

“You’ll fuckin’ remember me,” Spike murmured, licking his way down Giles’.

“Always, Spike, I . . .” Giles stopped suddenly when he heard the soft grind of bone against bone as Spike changed, and he stiffened when he felt Spike’s teeth tease his neck.

“Well, Watcher?” Spike whispered and again Giles felt that scream, the rise in his blood, a dizzying sensation of desire, lust and something stronger, something ancient and darkly inviting, and he was overcome with the need for it, and he understood now why so many gave in to it, offered up their throats to the beautiful blackness.

He closed his eyes.

“Yes,” he said, tilting his neck, wanting it more than he had ever wanted anything, the stupidity of the act no longer mattering, he just wanted it, had always wanted it, and now wanted it more than anything from Spike.

“How do you know I won’t turn you? Kill you?” Spike whispered, teeth starting to dig into the flesh in Giles’ neck.

“Because I trust you,” Giles whispered. “And because I love you.”

Spike froze and Giles waited, running one hand slowly up and down the length of Spike’s back. “Goddammit,” Spike finally murmured brokenly. “Love you, too.”

Then he bit, sharp and hard and deep, and Giles gasped and his vision blurred and he arched high up off the bed, pleasure slamming through him beyond anything he’d ever felt before, and he came and was hard again at once, and he was dimly aware of Spike’s wet noises of satisfaction against his neck, and the remainder of the night was spent in a blurry crimson haze of blood and come and tears and sweat, nightmares and begging and broken goodbyes.


Giles sat on the edge of the bed, suit jacket draped over his arm, watching the clock, fingers at the wound in his neck.

“It’ll never heal,” Spike said bitterly. “It’ll be with you forever, I’ll be with you forever, you’ll never fuckin’ forget me, you’ll always remember.”

“I would have remembered anyway,” Giles said softly.

“Don’t do this, Watcher, don’t leave.”

Spike’s voice was naked and desperate, and Giles refused to look at him, knowing that the expression on his face would be the same. So he dropped his head and stared at the floor, silent, and when the time came he got up, grabbed his bags, and left without another word.


By the time he got to his flat in Bath he was exhausted, and he fell on to the sofa fully clothed, not even bothering to remove his tie, and again his fingers went to the mark on his neck, and as he fell into a troubled sleep he thought he could hear them, all of them: Anya, fighting back tears because she’d wanted him to walk her down the aisle; Xander, disappointed and frightened; Willow silent and resentful; Dawn, arms crossed and glaring before running to hide in her room; Tara, tears streaming down her face but smiling, whispering in his ear when she’d hugged him goodbye that she thought he was doing the right thing; and Buffy, oh, God, Buffy, calling for him in her sleep; and Spike, somewhere in the dark, slumped on his knees and weeping.

The mark on his neck throbbed, reminding him of all that he’d left behind.


After one bad night he was surprised to find he was sleeping rather well, and at the end of two weeks he felt better than he had in months, despite the resounding silence of the telephone. He started getting out and about, meeting up with old friends and occasionally and grudgingly doing various types of work for the Council, and it wasn’t long until Olivia showed up on his doorstep with a bottle of wine.

He smiled and invited her in.


“This,” she said as they lay in bed, her fingers brushing against the mark on his neck. He flinched and gently pulled her hand away. “Vampire?”

He bit back a sigh and then smiled slightly. “Yes. How did you know?”

“Well, Rupert, I’ve learned quite a lot in our time together.” She touched it again and he winced. “It still hurts?”

He stared at the ceiling. “Yes.”

“Did you kill it? The vampire?”

It.’ He pushed away the irrational anger that the word called forth, knowing full well that she didn’t understand, and rolled on to his side away from her. “It felt as if I did,” he murmured under his breath.

After she’d touched it one too many times, either by accident or out of curiosity, he’d asked her as politely as he could to leave.


“Giles? Hope I’m not waking you up, you know how horrible I am with math, are you in the future or the past?”

“What?” he mumbled, fumbling for the lamp on the night stand. “Buffy?”

“You’ve forgotten me already?”

“No, of course not, it’s just that . . .”

“Dammit! You were asleep, weren’t you? Stupid time zones!”

He found himself laughing. “How are you, my dear? Is everything all right? I tried to call on your birthday but the phones . . .”

She sighed. “Long story. Really long story. And things are okay, I guess. Weird without you around, but . . . Giles, listen. I’m sorry about the way I acted, about not saying goodbye. And about all those things I said, you know I didn’t really mean any of that, right?”

“I know,” he said softly. “I’ve missed you terribly.”

“Me, too,” she sighed. “Missed you, I mean. And I’m not begging you to come back and pay the mortgage or let me send Dawn over there to you, but it really sucks ass with you being gone. That’s a compliment, by the way, the sucking ass thing, though now that I’ve said it I really wish I hadn’t.”

“Well, thank you, I suppose,” he said, grinning. “What’s been happening?”

“Tons. Hey, guess what! I was invisible!”



The next night the phone rang again, at a more reasonable hour.

“Mr. Giles?”

“Tara,” he said, smiling broadly.

“Yeah,” she said, and he imagined her smiling and blushing and ducking her head, then remembered what a different person she’d been when she’d been alone with him and Spike, confident, giving as good as she got with Spike, and something about her presence lighting up the room and lending it a sense of peace at the same time. Spike had marveled at her, gone on and on about her, drawn to her light and Giles could tell that he was grateful that she welcomed him into it, embraced him with it, in spite of who he was. Or maybe, Giles thought, because of who he was.

“I’m not bothering you, am I?” she asked.

“No, of course not. How are you?”

“Actually, really good. School’s good, and Willow’s even better,” she said proudly.

“Yes, Buffy said she’s doing well with the magick.”

“Oh, she really, really is! You’d be proud, Mr. Giles.”

“I already am,” he said.

“Oh, good,” she said, sounding relieved. “Because she really wants to talk to you but she’s, you know, afraid that you might still be mad?”

“Of course not. Have her call me, please.”

“I will,” she said and he could hear the smile in her voice. “How’s England?”

He peered out the window. “Rather dreary at the moment.”

“I’ve always wanted to visit England,” she said softly and he grinned.

“Yes, I’ve gotten that impression,” he said and he was certain she blushed this time. “Perhaps someday?”

“Maybe,” she said, and something in her tone made him frown but she hurried on, making him laugh with stories about Dawn and Willow, Xander and Anya, her description of Buffy’s Doublemeat Palace uniform making him bite his lip hard to keep from howling.

“You know I’m not making fun of Buffy, Mr. Giles, right? Because I love her, you know? We’ve really gotten kind of close lately. But that hat . . . it’s just . . . Mr. Giles, there’s something really, really wrong there.”

Again he put his hand over his mouth to keep from giggling, and when he’d recovered enough to speak, he finally worked up the nerve to ask about Spike.

“Oh, uh, well, he could be better. I know he’ll be fine eventually.”

“But he’s not fine now.”

“Well . . . did you think he would be?” she asked, no hint of accusation, just truth.

“I suppose not,” he sighed.

“I still think you did the right thing. Great things can come from great pain, it’s just the in-between part that’s hard.”

He sat in silence for a moment. “Tara, you’re a very wise young woman. Thank you.”

“No, Mr. Giles, thank you. Listen, I, uh . . . I know this might sound really weird, I haven’t known you very long, but the reason that I called, besides, you know, all the catching up was to . . . well, to tell you that I love you.”

His eyes widened in surprise.

“Mr. Giles? I’m sorry, it is weird, I shouldn’t have said . . .”

“No! No, no, no, hush, Tara, that’s lovely. I love you, as well, and you’ve done so much for all of us, and especially for Spike, you’re family.”

He could tell that she was crying now.

“Tara, are you all right?” he asked softly.

“Yes,” she said, and he could hear the tears and the smile in her voice. “I’m very all right. But I guess I should go, Dawn’s been giving me dirty looks, I think she wants to use the phone.”

He smiled. “All right, then. Take care.”

“Goodbye, Mr. Giles.”

That night he dreamed of a brilliant red rose blooming on a young girl’s blouse.


The next day he was going through his personal library, having been recruited by the Council to teach a course at the Academy, when the throbbing in the mark on his neck sharpened, and there was pain, suddenly, searing, slicing through his entire being and knocking him to his knees, and his vision blurred and he doubled over as it felt as if his insides were being ripped out, and then he was slammed by a wave of gold green light followed by a sickening shimmer of red blood haze, and he fell on all fours gasping.

“Oh, God,” he whispered. “Tara.”


He called first, half a dozen times and getting no answer, so he started packing frantically, phone cradled between ear and shoulder as he argued with the person on the other end of the line about getting an immediate flight to the states, and when he finally had the flight booked he hung up and grabbed what he could and started to run out the door when the phone rang.

He picked it up in dread.


“Tessa? What . . .”

“You must get back to Sunnydale, something is happening.”

“I know, Tara, do you know . . .”

“I’m sorry, Rupert. She’s dead.”

He exhaled heavily and bent forward, fighting off a wave of nausea. “How?”

“We’ve no time for the details, Rupert. The other, Willow, she is grieving.”

“Of course she is, they were . . .”

“Rupert, she’s calling for vengeance. Dark magicks of all sorts are making their way to her, inside her, and her power is such that she will kill, she is on the verge of doing such as we speak, and once she starts there may be no bringing her back. She’ll fall and take the world with her.”

“Jesus Christ,” he whispered. “I’ve got a flight booked . . .”

“No time. Besides, we need to give you something before you go. Meet us as soon as possible.” She hung up.

He stared at the phone for a long time, too long, he thought, when he finally shook off his daze, and then he ran like hell.


He and Buffy and Anya eyed Willow warily as she hovered, bound and snarling and full of rage, in the center of the Magic Box. “Buffy, that should hold her for a while,” he said softly, arms still tight around both her and Anya, his eyes on Willow, shocked in spite of all the coven’s warnings at what he would see when he finally got there. “We should talk.”

He felt her shoulders heave as she sighed heavily. “Yeah, we should. You sure she’s okay like that?”

“Yes,” he said, not sure at all. “Come along.”


“ . . . and besides all that,” she said, pacing. “I was, uh . . . shit, Giles, I don’t know how to say it except to say it – I was sleeping with Spike.”

He leaned back heavily against the wall, one hand over his eyes, dumbfounded, and utterly unsure how he felt about that.

“Listen, Giles, I wouldn’t have . . . I didn’t know about the two of you.”

He looked at her in shock. “How did you find out?”

“Well, that’s kind of what’s got me worried, see, I broke it off a while ago and for a while he seemed fine, you know, fine for Spike, anyway, but then I started catching him out at night, raging and wild and kind of scary, actually, even to me, and it was like he was hunting, demon, human, it didn’t seem to matter . . .”

“Human? What about the chip?”

“Well, when he was making any sense at all, he said that sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t.”

“Did he kill anyone?”

“Not that he remembered, and not that we could find, but something seriously weird is going on with him.”

“Bloody hell,” Giles said wearily. “Where is he?”

“That’s the other thing. Giles, he was there, at the house, when Tara was killed.”

 “What?” And then he remembered the pain, slicing through him like a blade.

“We didn’t find out until later, until Willow went all uberwicca and Xander and I went back to the house and he was in their room, he had her in his arms and was rocking her back and forth and mumbling, he kept saying ‘golden’ over and over and then . . .” She sighed and took a deep breath. “Then he threw me up against the wall and started yelling at me to ‘get the Watcher, I need the Watcher’ and that this was all my fault. And so, you know, then I finally started getting a clue. About him and you.” She looked at him. “You should have told me.”

He stared at her. “And what would you have said?”

“That you were a gigantic idiot. But that was before . . . something was changing about him before he went all caveman, even after I broke it off it was like . . . like he was becoming more human, somehow. And he was spending so much time with Tara . . .”

“Why was he there? With her and Willow?”

“Well, Dawn, you know, eavesdropper that she is, said that he’d come to see if Tara could help him find out why he’d done what he did to m-. . .” She stopped suddenly and dropped her eyes. “To find out why he’d been doing the things he’d been doing. And then, well, Warren . . .”

“And now?”

“He’s gone. But after we take care of Willow, if we take care of Willow, we really need to find him. He’s dangerous, whether he means to be or not.”

Giles slouched and scrubbed at his face.

She sighed and moved to stand beside him. “Do you hate me?”

“Hate you? What on earth for?”

“Well, for, you know, Spike.”

He covered his mouth to hide a small smile. “Would you hate me if I told you I slept with Angel?”

Her eyes widened.  “WHAT? Dammit, Giles, that’d better be a joke or I swear to God I’ll kill you . . .” Her manner changed suddenly. “But, see, you are a much more mature person than I am, a man who forgives easily and who would never hate his Slayer no matter how much she screwed up.” She looked up at him pleadingly. “Right?”

“Right,” he said, pulling her into his arms and smiling into her hair.

“Thank God,” she said, sighing. Then she looked up at him. “You . . .were kidding about Angel, right?”

He started laughing.


He and Anya waited outside the Magic Box, Anya going on and on about how glad she was that he wasn’t dead, that she wasn’t dead, but that, and it might be wrong, she was plenty glad Warren was dead, and he sighed and smiled and rolled his eyes and clung to her tightly. Buffy and Dawn arrived first, both of them wrapping their arms around he and Anya, and then Willow and Xander staggered into view, Willow still weeping, and all four of them moved to hold her, trying to reassure her by touch and soft words that they still loved her.

“I’m sorry, I’m so sorry . . .” she kept saying, and Buffy stroked her hair and Dawn held her tightly and Giles stepped away and hauled Xander into his arms.

“You’re a wonderful, strong young man, Xander, I’m quite proud of you, you know, I haven’t told you that nearly enough,” Giles murmured and Xander stiffened, resisting it for a moment before wrapping his arms around Giles and crying silently. Giles held him for a long time, running one hand soothingly up and down his back, and then he stepped away.

“Willow?” he said, holding out his hand, and she took it, stepping close to him and burying her face in his chest.

“Come back soon, Will,” Buffy said.

Willow looked up at Giles. “I don’t if I can,” she whispered brokenly.

“You can and you will,” he said firmly as the world began to tilt and they closed their eyes against the sensation of it and when it stopped they opened their eyes to find themselves in a meadow.

Willow fell to her knees, retching, and Giles knelt beside her, sweeping back her hair and running a hand over her shoulders until she stopped finally, shuddering. “I’m going to die,” she whispered.

“No,” he said. “I’m afraid you won’t get out of this one so easily. You’ll have to go on living like the rest of us.”

“I can’t.”

“You can,” he whispered and brought her to her feet, hugging her one last time before handing her over to Tessa, who had appeared as if out of nowhere to stand beside them.

“I love you, Willow,” he said. “And I’ll see you soon.”

She nodded, eyes still somewhat vacant, and began following Tessa through the green grass of the meadow. He sighed, relieved but also worried, Tessa had told him they wouldn’t know until after spending a great deal of time with Willow whether they would be able to bring her back from the darkness.

Out of habit his fingers went to the mark on his neck, and suddenly there was pain again, different this time, white hot and shot through with joy and misery and confusion, and when he opened his eyes and caught his breath, he looked to see Tessa staring down at him.

“The vampire,” she said, eyes black. “Something has happened.”

“What? What’s happened?” he whispered weakly.

“You must find him,” she said. “Before the Other gets him, takes him completely. Prepare yourself, Rupert, there are many things coming and much to be done.”

“I . . . I’ve no idea where to look, Tessa, can you help me?” he asked.

“He’ll go home,” she said. “To the place where he least needs to be.”

Then she was gone.


“Sorry, Giles, but Clem says he’s skipped town,” Buffy said. “Anya’s tried all her demon contacts but we can’t find anything.”

He sighed. “All right, then. Keep me informed.”

“We will. How’s Willow?”

He smiled at that; good news on one front, at least. “Much improved. I hope to send her home soon.”

“Oh, good! Tell her we’re waiting and we miss her.”


“I’m scared, Giles,” Willow said.

“I know. But you’ll be fine, they’re waiting for you.”

“Waiting to kill me,” she mumbled.

“Of course not, don’t be absurd,” he said, hugging her briefly. “Go on, now. I’ll be there soon.”

She looked at him and smiled slightly. “Thank you, Giles.”


The phone rang and he answered. “Yes?”


He frowned. “Pryce?”

“Something’s happened at the Council.”


Again he found himself packing frantically when the phone rang again.

“Giles, it’s me.”

“Buffy, I’m in a tremendous hurry, something’s happening . . .”

“Tell me about it – look we’ve found Spike.”

He sagged in relief. “Thank God. Is he all right?”

“No, not really, he’s kind of . . . crazy acting.”

He frowned. “Where is he?”

“He’s been hiding in the basement of the new high school.”

“On top of the bloody Hellmouth?” he shouted.

“Yep,” she sighed.

“Well, get him out of there, to your house, chain him up if you have to; I’ve got other things to worry about right now but I hope to be there in about a week, maybe more.”

She sighed again. “We’ll be here. Hopefully.”


Giles stared unseeing at the Potentials gathered in the kitchen, and Xander took in his clenched jaw and hard eyes and cursed under his breath.

“She didn’t tell you, did she?” he asked.

“No, she bloody well didn’t,” Giles muttered.

“Shit! Listen, Giles, there’s a lot goin’ on now, and we think it may have started back then, before Willow went all veiny on us, I don’t think that you should do anything or say anything until you talk to Buffy about this and why am I talking to an empty chair?” Xander said, cringing as the door to the basement slammed.


“Well, well. Look who’s here. Long time, no see, Rupert.”

Giles stood in front of Spike where he was shackled to the wall in Buffy’s basement.

“You hurt her,” he growled, face and eyes hard, fists clenching.

Spike looked away, staring at the floor. “Yeah. I did. I . . .”

Suddenly Giles was atop him, hitting him, punching him hard in the face again and again. “I’ll kill you, I’ll fucking kill you, you son of a bitch, don’t you ever fucking touch her again . . .”

“Giles! Giles, stop it!”

Buffy hauled him away from Spike and flung him against the wall. “God, Spike, are you all right?” she asked, kneeling in front of him. He sighed, wiping away the blood streaming from his nose. He cast a tired glance at Giles, and through the red haze of fury Giles was startled to realize that something was different, his eyes were different.

“No,” Spike mumbled. “I’m not all right. Never have been, have I? Quite the reunion, Watcher, lovely to see you again, pet.”

Buffy whirled on Giles. “Upstairs, now. We’ve got to talk.”


“Why didn’t you tell me about this before? When you told me you were sleeping with him?”

“Because I knew you’d go all crazy vengeful commando Rambo Watcher father guy, like you did just now! How did you find out, anyway?”


She sighed. “Giles, it’s not as cut and dried as Xander might have made it seem.”

“Buffy, you can’t possibly be justifying what he did to you,” Giles said wearily.

“Of course I’m not,” she said, pacing. “But there were . . . things going on, it was all, you know . . . twisted, really twisted, I was nuts from the whole Lazarus thing and he was all crazy because you left and then I was using him, Giles, something I am not proud of, and then I dumped him, and then when Tara died – Giles, I had no idea how close they were, I mean, I knew that they spent a lot of time together but he really loved her, she was his only friend in the world, literally. And I think that even then the First was messing with him, he barely even remembers how he got to my house that night, much less what happened after he got there. And all that, you, me, Tara – I think that’s what the whole soul thing was about.”

Giles looked at her sharply. “What ‘soul thing?’”

She sat down beside him on the bed. “He’s gotten his soul back,” she said softly.

Giles stared at her, remembering the pain he’d felt, the difference he’d seen in Spike’s eyes.  “What? How on earth . . .”

“I’m not sure exactly. Something about going through some demon trials.”

“Bloody hell,” Giles sighed, burying his face in his hands.

Buffy put her hand on his shoulder. “You never really told me before, why you didn’t say anything. About the two of you.”

“For God’s sake, Buffy, he’s a vampire. Not exactly the ideal candidate for a healthy relationship. At least, that’s what I thought at the time.”

“Well, you don’t have to tell me that. You were ashamed?”

He sighed and rubbed at his eyes. “A little, yes. And confused.”

“Well, it’s not like I wouldn’t have understood, Giles, I haven’t exactly been the poster girl for not having relationships with vampires, I mean, first Angel and then Spike and . . .” She paused, eyes widening. “ OH MY GOD, GILES, WE’VE SLEPT WITH THE SAME VAMPIRE!” she ended with a shriek, shoving him away and leaping off the bed. “EWWW!

He rolled his eyes. “Bloody hell, Buffy, that’s just now occurring to you? And that’s vampires, plural, don’t you forget about Angel and me!” he said, pointing a finger at her.

She stared at him in shock, and then she started laughing, and once she started she couldn’t stop, and soon he was laughing, too, and she sat back down on the bed and wrapped her arms around him and they laughed and rocked back and forth, wiping away tears.

“Oh, God,” she said finally, breathless. “Seriously, quit it about Angel, not funny, I’ve got enough to worry about.”

“Fine, I’ll quit bringing up my torrid affair with Angel,” he said quite seriously.

She poked him hard and he grumbled and she settled back in his arms. “Could our lives possibly get any weirder?”

“I believe they most certainly will,” he whispered into her hair, smiling.

She looked up at him. “He’s different, now. I mean, he was always different, the way he, you know, just felt things so deeply, but now, with the soul . . .”

“Do you love him?” he asked, not jealous, but curious.

She thought for a moment. “Yeah, I guess, in a way. He’s one of us, now. But I think the more important question is, do you? Love him? Because I think that’s what really matters to him, how you feel.”

He stared at his hands and didn’t answer.


“Why’re you doin’ this?” Spike muttered, pulling away from Giles’ touch. “Why aren’t you poundin’ the shit outta me?”

“Because,” Giles said, again grabbing gently at Spike’s jaw. “Buffy believes there was more going on. And she forgives you. And if she forgives you, then I suppose I must as well.”

“May be just that I’m fuckin’ evil, you know.”

“Don’t be ridiculous. I’m sorry about earlier,” Giles said quietly, wiping gently at Spike’s face with a wet washcloth. “It’s just that I love her so much and the thought of anyone hurting her . . .”

Spike shrugged. “I deserved it. Still do. Like I said, don’t understand why you aren’t finishin’ what you started.”

Giles sat back and regarded Spike closely. “You’re tired.”

“Understatement of the fuckin’ year. Haven’t slept right since you left.”

Giles winced. “And you’re hurting. And it’s more than just what happened with Buffy and Tara, isn’t it? More than what I did. It’s your soul.”

Spike looked away, silent.

“It’s tearing you apart.”

Spike closed his eyes and Giles watched as he started to cry silently.

“Great things can come from great pain,” Giles murmured and Spike looked at him sharply.

“That’s what Golden kept tellin’ me,” he mumbled.

“She told me the same thing.”

Spike sighed. “What do you want, Watcher? I ain’t got much left to give.”

“I want you to shut up and get some rest.”

“Can’t, not by myself . . .”

“Ask me to stay.”

Spike stared at him, eyes hard. “I will never ask you that again. Never.”

“And if I stay anyway?”

Spike sighed and laid down on his side, facing the wall. “Then maybe I’ll sleep. Maybe, so much in my head, Jesus . . .”

Giles stood and stripped off his coat and climbed on to the cot which was almost too narrow for the both of them, and wrapped himself around Spike as tightly as he could, doing his best to avoid the chains and burying his face in Spike’s neck. Spike shuddered.

“Cold,” he mumbled.

“I know, I can feel it,” Giles murmured, running one hand up and down Spike’s arm. “Do you want me to say it?”

“I’ll never ask for that again, either.”

“And if I say it anyway?” Giles whispered against the skin of his neck.

“Then,” Spike sighed, “Maybe I can sleep . . .”

“Love you,” Giles whispered and suddenly Spike relaxed, almost melting into him, and Giles watched for a long time as he slept.


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