by Vampire Fever
Giles walked into the empty crypt. Signs of Spike's recent occupation were
discernible to the attentive eye; a ratty chair sat facing an old portable
television and cigarette stubs littered the concrete floor.
Giles meandered around the cold, dank room, wondering how anyone could live here. He tried to picture himself in the same situation but found it difficult to envisage a time when such surroundings would ever be considered a viable option. How low did a person have to sink, to find living in a tomb an acceptable home?
A little of the misery that thought engendered, dissipated as he came across a hole in the floor with a ladder leading down to a lower level. Curiosity got the better of him and he climbed down to investigate further. He found himself in a cave like space, lit by a single light bulb and dominated by an old bed and a few meagre possessions.
He sat on the edge of the bed and picked up a book that was nestled amongst the pillows. Making himself more comfortable, he opened the book and began to read. Time passed without him noticing and it was only the sound of a rat running across the floor that broke him out of his deep concentration on the novel.
He glanced at his watch and realised he'd been sitting on the bed for a couple of hours. He looked around the claustrophobic space and sighed at the depressing sight of water dripping down the rock that was the far wall. For a moment he contemplated the old novel in his hand and then removed the cigarette paper that was being used as a bookmark, carefully replacing it with a one hundred dollar bill. He then returned the copy of Jane Eyre to the spot where he'd found it, amongst the pillows, and made his way back into the sunlight.
Spike sat staring at the one hundred dollar bill in his hand with a bemused look on his face. With the scent of the Watcher surrounding him, it wasn't the 'who' that puzzled him; it was the 'why'.
He was used to bargaining with Giles, bartering his muscle and information for as much as he could get from the wily human. And he never paid more than he absolutely had to – Giles was a formidable adversary.
Although he'd never admit it, Spike enjoyed his run ins with the Watcher. Giles' giant brain and dry wit kept him on his toes and was a refreshing change from the inane insults he traded with the Slayer and her culturally challenged minions.
But the 'why' continued to elude him and he hated mysteries. He sat silently, unconsciously basking in the scent that lingered in the still air. He then shrugged on his duster and went to find the answer.
Spike dropped a bottle of scotch and two glasses down on the table in front of the Watcher.
"I owe you a drink, though I have no idea why."
He slid into the booth that was situated in the back of the dimly lit bar and looked around.
"Nice ambiance. Although a bit heavy on the early 70s hippy chic for my tastes."
Giles poured the scotch into the two glasses. He handed one silently to the vampire and took a sip from his glass.
"I think it's one of the few places I can go where I can guarantee being away from the children for a whole night. The acoustic sessions and poetry readings scare them away. How did you find me?"
"You're assuming I was looking?"
Giles smiled, "You weren't?"
Spike shrugged, "Maybe. But I'd given up finding you, so I came here for a pint and saw you sitting all on your lonesome. Running away from the kiddies - is the job getting too much for you old man?"
Giles studied Spike for a moment before answering, "Not at all. It's just nice to have a space where I can be myself and leave the Watcher at the door."
Spike grinned at Giles and manoeuvred himself so that he was leaning against the wall, allowing him a view of the whole room.
"I assume your inner Rupert takes a turn during the acoustic spots, you don't look the sort who indulges in spouting poetry."
Giles moved so that he was also leaning against the wall in the corner of the booth and looked at Spike's grinning face and smiled.
"Bang go my delusions of being enigmatic and mysterious. Yes, I sometimes sing and play the guitar here. And I do enjoy listening to other peoples' poetry."
Spike finished his glass of whiskey and refreshed his glass. "So only the patrons of this bar get to see the real you?"
Giles contemplated Spike for a moment before answering, "Hardly! Do any of us ever show the world our true faces?"
"Not the world, no." Came Spike's whispered response.
Their gazes locked for a moment until Spike broke eye contact to pull something out of his pocket. He placed the one hundred dollar bill down onto the table between them and asked,
"Are you going to tell me what this was all about then?"
Giles smiled and softly replied, "I thought I already had.
Giles watched Spike process his comment. The vampire's head was tilted to one side as his blue eyes studied Giles' face. He could almost hear the cogs of Spike's brain moving as he tried to work out what he was up to.
Giles was surprised that he wasn't equally as confused. Strangely, after all the years he'd spent hating Spike and everything he represented, this tentative detente didn't feel wrong. To coin a phrase, it was like he'd had an epiphany as he'd sat reading Spike's book in the crypt. For the first time, the reality of Spike's humanity had struck him and, at that moment, he'd ceased to be a monster and became a person.
"Are you drunk?"
Giles tried unsuccessfully to suppress a grin, "Is that the best you could come up with?"
"I was gonna go for your standard possession or spell, but I was trying to avoid being trite."
"I appreciate it."
Spike smiled, "S'no problem." He tapped his finger on the one hundred dollar bill.
"The money Rupert, what did I do to earn it? And this time, less of the cryptic."
"Call it a peace offering."
Ah, the $64,000 dollar question, or at least the $100 dollar version. Giles stalled by pouring himself another shot of whiskey. He looked at Spike over the rim of the glass as he took a sip. The truth was a bit stark. How could he just say, 'I think I saw you - a tiny glimpse - and now I'm thoroughly intrigued', without having Spike laugh in his face and call him a wanker?
He put the glass down and rubbed a finger over his bottom lip before replying, "Because the world is a lonely place and I thought maybe getting to know one another would make it a little more bearable."
"You want us to be friends!"
Giles was sure he heard an echo of hope hidden beneath the surprise in Spike's voice, before his emotions were shuttered and a look of suspicion was directed at him.
"You're playing me." Spike accused.
"You hate me."
Giles winced as his chickens came home to roost.
"And you hate me, as you never forget to remind me, but isn't it getting old? All that passion wasted on negative emotions. Aren't you tired of it?"
"S'not wasted. I'm evil remember. I'm programmed to hate you." A confused frown still marred Spike's brow.
Giles shrugged, "So you're proof that its nature over nurture are you? No free will, just a product of a bunch of demon hormones and instincts?"
Spike opened his mouth to speak, but Giles waved a hand to stop him.
"Whatever Spike." Giles said wearily, "I just thought it would be nice. Thanks for the whiskey."
He pushed the one hundred dollar bill back towards Spike, picked up his glass and turned his attention to the rest of the bar. And waited.
How had this evening spiralled so far out of his control? He felt like Alice down the rabbit hole and the Watcher had done it to him with a few simple words. Wily old fox!
He looked at Giles' face as it was turned in profile away from him. What was going on in that head of his? What was he up to? Spike found it hard to believe that Giles really wanted to be friends and tried to squash the little spark inside of him that glowed brightly at the thought.
Spike knew that Giles' final salvo was just the beginning of this little skirmish (he was still here, wasn't he?), and the ball was now in his court. Shouldn't that be a cannon ball if he wanted to avoid mixing all his metaphors? Hell, the man had even got him thinking like a bloody Watcher! He laughed at himself for being such a pansy.
Giles turned his head at the sound of the laughter and raised one of his eyebrows in question.
"Don't worry Rupert, wasn't laughing at your strong, manly profile. I've got a question. If, lets say, I do decide to take you up on this friendship thing, how would it work? Would you come round to my place after school and we'd braid each others hair?"
Giles mouth quirked up on one side, as he tried not to laugh, "I was going to bring my Action Man, but if you'd rather explore your feminine side, I'm willing to oblige."
They held eye contact for an infinite moment before they both dissolved into a fit of giggles.
Spike got himself under control first and watched fascinated as Giles' face crinkled attractively around the edges, as the last of his giggles died away. Annoying man, deliberately making it harder for him to hold onto his mistrust and suspicions.
Still smiling, Spike pointed an accusing finger at Giles, "You owe me big time for my self control Rupert."
Giles, holding his glasses in his hand as he cleaned them, looked up at Spike, laughter still evident in his voice, "Really? Please elaborate."
"I've bitten my tongue bloody keeping in all the one-liners your little Action Man comment immediately brought to mind."
"How many did you have?"
Spike mentally counted, "Six."
"Impressive! All of them complementary of course?"
They both grinned at each other again.
Flippin' heck, this was turning into a sodding love-fest. They'll be snogging soon, if he didn't get them back on course. He threw the remainder of the whiskey in his glass down his throat before repeating,
"So this friendship thing, how would it work?"
Giles put his glasses back on and looked at Spike.
"Its not so complicated Spike. We could meet up in, oh I don't know; let's say a bar. We'll talk, have a few drinks, maybe a laugh, find out more about each other and hopefully learn to like and respect one another. Its not rocket science. Would it be so different to all the other interactions you've had with your other friends over the years?"
Spike looked down at his fingernails and muttered, "Wouldn't know. Never had a friend before."
He picked at the chipped nail polish on his thumb, determined to avoid seeing the ridicule that must be spread all over Giles' face.
"Well you've got a friend now, if you want one." Giles whispered softly.
Spike slowly lifted his head and eyed Giles warily, searching his face until he found something that allowed him to drop his guard an infinitesimal amount. The tension in his neck and shoulders relaxed, as he slumped back against his seat and reached out to pour himself another shot of whiskey.
"How do I know you're genuine and not operating some giant mind fuck?"
Giles stared at him without blinking, "You don't know. The same as I don't know you're not up to some trick of your own. The key word here is trust and that only develops over time. I'm willing to give it a go, if you are."
"I suppose, though I still want to know what sparked this all off. I don't buy that lonely guy routine."
Giles smiled and poured himself another shot of whiskey, draining the bottle of the last of its contents. "Well that's something I'm not prepared to tell you yet. Once we've got to know each other better and have a little of that elusive trust developing, maybe then I'll let you know."
Spike grinned and held up his glass, "Fine, have it your way Rupert. I propose a toast. To new and fragile beginnings."
Giles lifted his glass and clinked it against Spike's, before taking a sip. The two men looked at each other and then turned their gazes to the rest of the bar, the silence between them comfortable and relaxed. Spike broke their casual reverie, "So were you planning on singing here this evening Rupes?"
Giles shook his head, "Nope, its poetry readings this evening. You fancy a shot at the mike?"
Spike choked on the sip of whiskey he'd been swallowing, "It'll take all that trust and way more bottles of booze before you'll ever see me up there performing poetry."
Giles cocked his head to one side and studied Spike. "Fascinating. You didn't refuse out right. I can't wait to learn more about you Spike; what your interests are, what your life was like before you were turned."
Spike thumped his glass down on the table, "Yeah, yeah, yeah, it's time to go Rupert old boy. It's late and you've had a lot to drink. I'll walk you home. Lot of nasties out there who would love to snack on the Slayer's Watcher."
The two men shifted out of the booth and started walking towards the exit.
"So what are you going to tell the kiddies when you invite me round for a dinner party?"
"Nothing, it's none of their business. Do you like fish and chips?"
The babble in the bar slowly drowned out the sound of their voices, Spike's answer lost, as the bar door closed behind them.
Those one-liners of Spike's:
1. Action Man, is that what you call it?
2. No-Action Man would be a better description.
3. Oh and playing with dolls is so masculine!
4. I bet the doll sees more action than you do.
5. I have no wish to play with any piece of plastic that you keep in your bedroom and call 'Action Man'.
6. If we're braiding hair, you'd better come round quick before your hairline recedes any further.