Sitting bound hand and foot to an unevenly-padded chair is not the most stylish way to spend your days. The only thing that can be said for it is that it beats being chained up in a bathtub with a dripping tap. And no sodding TV show unless you throw a full-scale drama queen tantrum, get threatened with a stake, drink blood from a novelty mug and if you’re extra-lucky get slayer-taste in your mouth.
There were days unlife sucked beyond the telling. Then there were worse days, like today.
Giles had a hangover. Spike’s heart would bleed for him, if it could beat. Or bleed. No, scrap that. Giving a shit was not on the agenda. What sympathy he had to spare was all for himself. Master vampire here, tied up by a bunch of kids, begging for a crumb, or at least a clot. Why the Wanker felt the need to get through half a bottle of single malt, without even the manners to offer a swig to his houseguest was beyond comprehension. Even elementary good manners should have ensured Spike a tot or two. But no.
Serve the bugger right, then, when he staggered down the stairs at nearly noon to confront a starving guest. Serve him even righter when the gag caused by opening and pouring the blood turned into a retch and then a full-scale puke. Nice that he was too fancypants to leave the grue lying on the floor to stink the place out. Spike recalled, dimly, being enough of a gentleman to clean up after himself.
Later he got seriously fed up of the berk staggering around and groaning. It was almost a relief when hordes of disgustingly cute Scooby-types erupted into the flat. At least the whining was directed elsewhere now.
Willow fluttered around the old bugger (barely a century younger than Spike himself, but not wearing half so well.) She had a nasty attack of the guilt still, that one, though no cookies this time. She was all-but soothing the fevered brow, though, and suggesting a whole host of remedies, at least half of them magical. Giles turned green. Or greener. Hard to say.
Buffy interrupted in the end. “Willow, he’s British. He needs tea.”
Giles raised his head, with some effort. Still hurting, then. Unlife wasn’t all bad. Spike settled into his chair (sodding ropes) to watch.
“No, really. I’ll be alright. You don’t have to go to any trouble.” The watcher seemed remarkably keen to stop the tea-making. Of course, he’d been living in this God-forsaken country a few years now. He knew what they would never grasp.
Willow and Buffy weren’t at all soothing. More like perky, really. Disgusting. They bounced around the flat, determined that, “Really, it was no bother, Giles should just sit tight and let them fuss over him for once.” Giles was looking less relaxed by the minute. Spike relaxed a little more.
The girls found the kettle. Teakettle? WTF? Then they rushed around looking for teabags. Giles groaned again.
“Really, I’m fine. Please don’t bother yourselves.”
Willow uttered a cry of triumph as she dug beneath a dusty pack of rice crackers to reveal a faded pack of teabags. Rice crackers? The Wanker ate compressed cardboard? Who would have guessed?
Buffy had filled the kettle and hovered around it as steam began to flow from its open nozzle. Funny that. Didn’t the Retired Librarian have one of those old-fashioned whistling types? The kitchen became slightly foggy and decidedly humid. After a few more minutes the girl decided it was hot enough and removed the kettle from the heat.
Then she started looking for a cup. Ignoring a row of perfectly good mugs, she hunted in cupboards for a properly proper British cup and saucer. At last, with a cry of triumph, she found them.
Now for a teapot. That was how Brits made their tea, right? This took less time, once she stopped searching the cupboards and looked next to the cookie jar. Or “Biscuit Tin”, as it was labelled. Then she looked in the lower cupboards to find a tray.
Spike was enjoying this. The view of a pretty arse wasn’t bad, but Giles’s frozen face as he watched, bleating quietly but unable to intervene, was just blissful. Spike had given up on the tea-drinking a century or more ago, but the memory of his mother’s precision and ritual stayed with him, as did the Government Service films of Hitler’s war, all about the Approved Way to make the stuff.
This was a very long way from approved. Buffy had found a plate and a packet of imported cookies. Or cakes. Orange box, anyway. She arranged a few of the spongy, chocolate-covered things on the plate and placed it with care on the tray. Then she turned her attention to the teapot. Removing the lid, she dropped a single tea-bag inside. Checking the water was nicely off the boil, she filled the pot to the brim and placed it with care on the tray.
Willow bounced into the kitchen. “Well done, Buffy. This is just what he needs – a real taste of home!” She picked up the laden tray and the two girls proudly processed into the sitting area. Giles had a hand covering his face.
This was fun. The blood of a pair of virgins wouldn’t be enough to tempt him away from this show. Well, not unless the girls were there, squirming beneath him as he fed. And even then…
The pleasant reverie was interrupted by the clonk as Willow placed the tray on a small table by the couch. Giles lifted his other hand to cover the other side of his face. Spike leaned his head forward Bloody ropes to watch as the girls turned into a pair of butterfly-impersonators, flittering around him, proffering Jaffa Cakes and tea. Vampire hearing allowed Spike to hear what they couldn’t. “I was saving those!” Good. Serve the mean bastard right.
Buffy lifted the teapot and an anaemic flow of liquid cascaded into the cup. Spike raised an eyebrow. No sign of milk or sugar or even the pouffy option, lemon. She tucked a chocolate-covered cakelet onto the saucer, just touching the cup. The chocolate started to melt. Slowly.
Giles lifted his head, reached for the proffered drink, mumbled something that could be interpreted as thanks. Two pairs of wide eyes watched as he sipped. Another pair of eyes, razor-sharp blue, stared in frank and total enjoyment. The cup was raised, gently, and hovered near his lips. He took a deep breath. Then Giles sipped.
Spike leaned forward. This was the best bit. The facial expressions were as delightful as he had expected. Disgust fought nausea, fought naked horror. The stuff, too feeble to be graced with the name of tea, was tepid at best, feeble beyond bearing and smelling and tasting almost of nothing. The outside of the cup was smeared in brown stickiness.
Two young women stood anxious and eager, intent on the reaction of their beloved mentor. Spike leaned ever more precariously forward. “Nice cuppa, Watcher?” He enjoyed the rise and fall of the Adam’s apple, the visible struggle for self-control, for the impeccable manners both Englishmen had been trained to display, many years apart but through the same system.
Three things happened at once. Spike, still smirking, toppled forwards and, with no hands available, planted his face firmly on the floor. The two girls leapt to their feet, annoyed by the interruption. And the cup slipped from the nerveless hands of the Watcher, smashing on the floor and splashing the effete brew across the room.
Hidden from view, Spike allowed a big smile to cross his features. The Watcher owed him for that distraction. Big time. Spike was going to collect. Cruelty to tea had been averted and a big reward was on the horizon.