spike/giles, watching the watcher
Watching the Watcher (1/1)
Title: Watching the Watcher
Disclaimer: I'm not Joss
Summary: Written for the Drunken Giles Ficathon, where my prompt was: Giles has been arrested for being drunk and disorderly. Character of your choice to bail him out and take him home. Thank you to silk_labyrinth for the beta-ing!
Watching the Watcher
“The Star of Emelhirn was destroyed in 1382 in the Battle of Roosebeke.”
Giles narrowed his eyes and drained the last of the whisky from his glass. “It most certainly was not. That Polish wizard—Piotrowski—used the Star in 1841 when he attempted to conquer Budapest.” He refilled his glass but not Benning’s. Benning could pour his own bloody drinks.
“The Polish wizard’s name was Ostrowski and he didn’t use the Star—he used the Gem of Koryk.” Benning picked up the bottle. “And it was 1843.”
Giles emptied his glass in one long swallow. He didn’t even feel the burn of the liquid in his throat anymore. “Piotrowski, Star, 1841,” he said.
Benning rolled his eyes. “Really, Ripper—”
“I’ve told you not to call me that.”
“Fine. Rupert. You used to be nearly at the top of our form and—”
“I was at the top. My marks beat yours every time.”
Benning shrugged as if he didn’t believe Giles but was willing to concede the point so he could continue. “Your marks were very good. And now here you are in this…this place, and you’ve quite forgotten even basic history. It’s fortunate the Council sent me to check up on you, old man.”
Giles simply glared and then drank another glassful.
Benning waited a moment, as if he expected some sort of response, and then shrugged again when he didn’t receive one. He was the same age as Giles—a few months older, actually—but looked younger. His hair was still ridiculously dark and thick, the skin on his face was firm and unlined, and he was as trim as he’d been at seventeen. His eyes had changed, though. Where they used to sparkle with warmth and mischief, now they were cold and glittering. Calculating. His smile was as thin and predatory as a demon’s. After pausing a moment more, he reached across the slightly sticky table and put his hand atop Giles’. “Perhaps it’s time for a change of duty, Rupert. You’ve been here…what? Seven years?”
“Five and a half,” Giles growled and snatched his hand away. He was startled to discover that the whisky bottle was empty. He turned toward the bar, where Willy was watching him apprehensively. “Bring another,” Giles ordered.
Willy nodded and reached behind the counter.
“Don’t you miss England?” Benning asked. “You’ve that lovely house just sitting empty. Or perhaps you’d fancy a flat in London instead. You could take some time to update your diaries—I’m told you’re terribly behind in that task.”
Willy set the fresh bottle on the table and picked up the empty one. He hovered there uncertainly for a moment.
Benning raised an eyebrow and then pulled his wallet out of his pocket. He handed Willy some bills but Willy didn’t leave. “You’ve had a lot to drink tonight, Mr. Giles,” he said, scratching nervously at the back of his neck. “Maybe you wanna let me call you a cab?”
“I’m quite old enough to know when I’ve had too much,” Giles snapped at him.
“Well, yeah, sure. I just thought maybe—”
Willy glanced around as if he expected Buffy to appear any moment to back Giles up. Then he scurried away, back behind the bar. Giles unsealed the bottle and filled his glass. It was cheap liquor, but that hardly mattered. He could no longer taste it in any case.
Benning waited for Giles to set the bottle down, then refilled his own glass as well. There was a slight tremor to his hand, Giles suddenly noticed, and the realization made him happy. Paul Benning always liked to think he could hold his liquor, but the shaking used to give him away. Benning was drunk, while Giles was still thinking perfectly clearly. Yes, perhaps he felt a bit dizzy, but that was due to the cold he’d been nursing lately; his inner ears had been wonky for days.
“Come on, old man,” Benning said in a slightly wheedling tone. “There hasn’t been a decent accounting of a Hellmouth in ages, not since Thompson in ’32. Think of the work you could do at HQ.”
“My work is here!” Giles said, perhaps a bit more loudly than he’d meant to.
“Yes, yes. The Slayer. You’ve had quite a bit of trouble with her, haven’t you?”
“She’s…she’s had a difficult time of it.”
Benning pasted a false look of concern on his face. “I heard. Her mother passed away, and there was that odd bit with her sister, and then the Slayer herself was dead for a time.”
It was good that Giles was drinking as the other man mentioned Joyce—the act of swallowing helped hide Giles’ inevitable wince.
“Perhaps things between you and the Slayer have been a bit strained of late, Rupert. I understand. It’s not your fault. She’s grown up and she’s ready to move on. And so are you, I believe.”
Giles shook his head. Never mind that these same thoughts had been swirling in his own head lately—he didn’t need Paulie Benning to tell him what he ought to do. And he didn’t need the bloody Council meddling in his affairs either.
Benning sighed and leaned forward. “See here, Rupert. It’s very simple. You return to England and the Council will send a replacement straight away. I believe Beatrice Twigg is quite prepared to take over as Watcher here—”
“She’s my Slayer!” Giles yelled.
Benning sat back in his chair with a smirk. “Ah. So it’s like that, is it? Tsk tsk. I always thought you fancied your women—and your men, for that matter—more mature. Taking advantage of the Watcher-Slayer relationship like that, and with a girl who sees you as a father. Why, Ripper—”
That was enough.
Giles stood so suddenly that his chair toppled backward. As Benning gaped at him in shock, Giles launched himself across the little table, landing a very solid blow right in the middle of Paulie’s smug face.
It had been ages since Giles had been in a fight with another human, and he was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to pound the man, how weak Benning’s attempts to fight back were, how satisfying it felt when Giles’ fists connected with flesh. Paulie did manage to get in a few hits of his own, but Giles barely felt them. His vision went a bit fuzzy when his eyeglasses flew off, and then there was blood and shouting and Giles kept swinging his fists and kicking his feet and screaming at Benning and he felt bloody brilliant—until something thumped the base of his skull and everything went black.
He barely made it to the metal toilet before he collapsed to his knees and vomited what felt like several gallons of foul liquid. Only when his stomach was empty did he look about.
It was hard to see details as his glasses were still missing, but he could make out three other men. One of them was flat on his back on the floor, his snores like a dying Kermptha demon. The other two sat on a concrete bench, watching Giles. Giles recognized one of them: Darby Linicutt, a town drunkard who’d managed to escape death by exsanguination only because he was one-quarter Felchis demon and, according to Spike, tasted horrible. Giles didn’t know the other man, who was singing something tunelessly.
“Hey,” Linicutt said. “Ain’t seen you in here before.”
Giles simply moaned and collapsed onto his arse with the toilet still safely nearby. Someone was scraping the inside of his head with a cheese grater.
“You look like you had a pretty good rumble, man.”
Giles patted tenderly at his face and torso. His clothing was torn, his mouth was puffy, and his muscles were sore enough to tell him that in a few hours every movement was going to be agony. The only consolation was that he still felt enough of an alcohol haze to numb the pain. “Where am I?” he asked.
“Drunk tank, o’ course. Cops dragged you in here a hour or two ago.”
Giles sank his face into his hands.
After a while, he felt steady enough to rise to his feet, although he had to use the wall to help support himself. He shuffled the few steps to the toilet and used the faucet mounted atop it to rinse his mouth. He turned to the singing man. “Would you kindly cease that racket?”
The man blinked at him, paused, then resumed caterwauling. Giles could almost see the bolts of pain that every sound brought to his head. “Shut it!” he roared, which also hurt, of course.
With a small hiccup, the man stopped singing and turned to picking at his fingernails instead.
Giles wearily considered his options. The police would allow him a phone call, he expected, but whom would he call? He didn’t have a lawyer, and he certainly didn’t want Buffy to see him like this. Perhaps he could ring Xander—sadly, Xander had more than enough experience with drunks—but then Anya would find out and she could not be trusted to keep silent about Giles’ predicament. Perhaps he should just lie down on the dirty concrete floor and go to sleep.
Just then, the metal door outside their barred enclosure opened and two uniformed men stepped into the space outside the cell. One of them carried a clipboard and the other had his hand hovering near his nightstick. “Rupert Giles?” said the one with the clipboard, mispronouncing the “G”.
Giles came closer to the bars. “Yes? That’s me.”
“You been sprung.”
“You made bail. You ain’t gonna give us any trouble now, are you?”
Giles shook his head. “No, no, of course not. But who bailed me out?”
“Dunno. I just wrangle you guys. Your buddy’ll be waiting for you in reception once we get the paperwork cleared.”
Confused, grateful, and apprehensive, Giles allowed the officers to lead him out of the cell—“Later!” Linicutt called as they left—out the metal security door, and down a hallway. They didn’t handcuff him, which was nice. Inside a dirty, crowded room with ancient desks, a female officer made him sign things and then gave him a sheaf of papers. He missed most of what she said, but he understood the gist of it, which was that he was to appear in court at the time and date specified in the papers. He nodded and mumbled that he would be there.
Then he was led away again, this time out another door. He took a deep breath and steeled himself to face whichever of the children had come to release him.
And his breath whooshed out when instead he saw a bleached-blond vampire with a merry grin on his face.
“You owe me a hundred quid,” Spike announced.
“Would have been more, but Willy told the cops that the Council wanker threw the first punch, and the Council wanker didn’t fancy going to court. So no assault and battery charges; just drunk in public. And you owe me a hundred quid.”
Spike grabbed Giles’ arm and began to drag him toward the exit. “Let’s get out of here, yeah? Sun’ll be up soon and I don’t much fancy the company of Sunnydale’s finest.”
Spike towed him out of the station and through a dark parking lot. “That’s my car!” Giles exclaimed. His mind was muddled but he was certain of that, at least.
“’T’s more of a motorized roller skate, but it’s yours.”
“How did my car get here?”
Spike opened the passenger door and pushed Giles into the seat. “Drove it, didn’t I?” He slammed the door, then came around the other side and let himself into the driver’s seat. “I don’t have a car and didn’t reckon springing you with one I’d nicked would be very wise—even these pillocks might notice that.” He started up the engine and began to drive.
Giles shook his head and tried to muster a clear thought. “You posted my bail?”
“I saw the end of the fight—not a bad one, either; that wanker’s nose will never be straight again—and saw the cops haul you away. Could’ve just let you rot in the jail until the Scoobies sorted out where you were.”
“Why didn’t you?”
Spike paused a moment before he replied. “Slayer’s had enough on her plate lately. She doesn’t need a rat-arsed Watcher on top of it all.” He chuckled. “Besides, I reckoned this’d be a good bit of information to have. Could get you to improve the quality of the blood you’ve been giving me. That last batch tasted like shite.”
“You intend to…to blackmail me?”
In only a few minutes they parked in front of Giles’ building. Giles stumbled and nearly fell as he walked to the door. Spike caught him neatly. “Still pissed or do you have a concussion?”
Giles steadied himself a little, silently thankful for Spike’s strong grip. “A bit of both, I expect.”
“Lovely. Hang on, then.” Spike fished the keys out of Giles’ pocket, which was quite a bit more…intimate…than Giles would have preferred, and then the vampire unlocked the door and helped him inside. Giles intended to stagger as far as his sofa and collapse there, but instead Spike steered him toward the stairs. Spike nearly had to carry him to the top.
With a groan of combined pain and relief, Giles sank down onto his mattress. He fell back and resolved never to move again.
But Spike stood over him, his brows drawn together and his head slightly cocked. “You’re a right mess,” he pronounced. “Should go to hospital.”
Spike sighed and then, to Giles’ surprise, sat on the mattress beside him. “Then I reckon I’ll stay here and make sure you don’t die.”
With the pain that he was already feeling and the additional agony that the morning promised, death didn’t sound to Giles like such a bad option. But he turned his head to squint at Spike. “Why do you care if I die?”
“Slayer doesn’t need her father-figure dead now too. Besides, I don’t want to have to dig up another blood source.” Spike smiled at Giles. Although Giles’s vision was too fuzzy to be certain, it didn’t seem like an evil smile. And then Spike’s nose wrinkled. “You smell bloody horrible.”
“Sorry to offend your delicate sensibilities.” Giles closed his eyes and wished the bed would stop spinning.
The mattress shifted as Spike stood again, and then Giles’ eyes flew open as he felt Spike tug the shoes off his feet. “What are you doing?” Giles demanded.
“If I’m stuck here I’m not going to have you reeking like a jail.” Spike reached for Giles’ shirt.
Giles batted weakly at Spike’s hands. “Stop it!”
“Look, Rupert. You can be a good boy and let me get what’s left of your stinking kit off you, or you could try to fight me. I’ll still get the kit off but then I’ll likely end up with a headache and you won’t improve your head any.”
Giles didn’t have it in him to argue with that logic. He just lay there as Spike quickly stripped off his torn and bloodied shirt and undershirt, and he didn’t even protest as Spike unbuttoned his trousers. Even as he blushed and fought a wave of nausea, Giles noticed that Spike was handling him gently, cautious of bruised and battered flesh.
When Giles was completely naked, Spike maneuvered him so that his head was on the pillow and the blankets were pulled up around him. Despite everything, it felt nice to be in his own bed.
Spike turned off the light so that the only illumination was the dim yellow glow from the bathroom down the hall. Then he shrugged off his duster and kicked off his boots and swung his legs up onto the bed so that he lay beside Giles.
Giles turned his head to look at him. It must have been the soft light—or Giles’ astigmatism—but Spike looked young and handsome and human. “I’ve some blood in the freezer, I think.” Giles said. “And scotch in the cupboard.”
“I know.” But Spike didn’t move, except to turn and look at Giles. A small smile played at the corners of his mouth. His blues eyes looked warm, warmer than Benning’s. Giles knew this was a vampire beside him and it was only due to a bit of plastic and wire that his neck remained intact, but still he thought he could see something in Spike’s face. A shadow of the man he had been. Giles was suddenly struck with the certainty that William Pratt had been a good man.
Giles yawned. “Do you know anything about the Star of Emelhirn?”
Spike thought for a moment. “Magic bauble, yeah? Didn’t some Polish git have a go with it shortly before I was born?”
Giles smiled. “Yes.”
“What about it?”
Spike shook his head fondly. “Won’t die on me, will you, Rupert?” he asked quietly.
“I’ll try not to.”
“Good. It’d be a bloody inconvenience. And I want my hundred quid.”
Spike was so close that Giles could almost touch him, could hear his needless breathing, could smell cigarettes and leather and whatever it was that Spike used in his hair. Giles wondered what that hair would feel like freshly showered—or, better yet, in the shower, with the water flowing down his pale skin, and with those pink lips parted and—and Giles really needed to get some rest.
Spike raised one eyebrow and grinned as if he could read Giles’ mind. Or—good Lord, the vampire could probably smell what he was thinking! Giles blushed again and Spike laughed softly. “Good night, Watcher.”
Giles closed his eyes and felt sleep wash over him like warm waves. Just before he slipped away entirely, he thought he felt Spike move closer to him—just close enough to touch. It was oddly comforting to be watched over by a demon, Giles thought, and then he fell fast asleep.