Disclaimer: I don't own or profit from BtVS. More's the pity. I would have made sure that Spike had a leather collar to go with that coat.
Thanks ever so to ObscureBookWyrm for all her efforts.
A/N: Just so we're clear. Spike is eeevillll. Murder and mayhem still at the top of his to-do list. It's not like he magically got a soul stuffed up his arse because he spent a few hours in Buffy's delightful company. I mean, she's awesome, but she's not that awesome. He's just trying to work through this abnormal obsession he has with the Slayer any way he can. He tried therapy, but Dru kept eating the therapist. The bloody bitch.
More Than Just a Girl
Spike leapt over the second floor railing and landed cat-pounce silent on the long mahogany table. The spattering of papers littering the slick, polished surface barely whispered their indignation at his intrusion. He stood at the head of the table waiting with predator patience for the man exiting the office opposite him to notice his presence.
Rupert Giles looked up as he closed his office door and gasped as his fine, bone-china teacup fell from his numb fingertips, shattering loudly on the cheap industrial flooring. He scooted back, scrambling with suddenly inept fingers as he tried to wrench open the door to his office, where he kept his weapons. A strong, cold hand around his stopped him dead. William the Bloody crowded into his space, his lethal blue eyes burning holes straight through him.
Giles stilled against the door. The only movement was the slight quivering of his hands and the rapid beating of his heart in his chest. Spike leaned close, trapping the human intimately against the wall. If Giles hadn't known how dangerous his position was, he would have been a very uncomfortable man.
"Ran into your Slayer tonight, mate."
Giles' ruddy features washed white. Dread stabbed him hard in the heart, and he fleetingly wondered if he was too young to have a heart attack.
"No." The word lisped without permission from between his tight lips.
The vampire cocked his head, his eyes piercing. Giles fought the urge to look away. He knew there were some creatures with the ability to scry men's souls. He didn't think William the Bloody was one such being, but there was something so intense about his eyes. It was as if he was stripping away layers upon layers of a person until he found the kernel of darkness that rested inside all men.
"Your slayer's still alive. Tucked away in her beddy-bye, I reckon."
Giles slumped against the door, his exhale of relief loud in the otherwise quiet room. He had to straighten his knees lest he collapse on the ground. He had experienced a lot of anger in his lifetime. Most of it had been during his Ripper years, but his capacity for it had never truly deserted him. When the Council of Watchers ordered him to subject Buffy to the Cruciamentum, he had felt it start to trickle inside him. When he found out that it was Kralik they wanted to pit her against, that anger had birthed itself into full-blown rage. He had done the best he could to protect Buffy from the Council despite the consequences to himself professionally and personally. Being fired was a pittance compared to the fact that Buffy might never forgive or trust him again.
"No thanks to you," Spike drawled nastily.
Giles' head thunked against the door. He exposed his throat, but he didn't care. He deserved a bloody death. He had stolen something precious from Buffy-the ability to protect herself. She could have died. Giles eyed the shameless monster in front of him, and wondered why she wasn't dead. There was no way she could have escaped a predator like William the Bloody in her present condition.
"Yes. You're quite right," Giles stuttered softly. "I'm the worst kind of bastard." He squeezed his eyes shut, rolling his head to the side. "She trusted me and I betrayed her."
Spike eased away. The vampire still had him trapped, but he wasn't so contentiously in his space either.
"Yeah, you did. Don't think the girl's goin' be forgivin' you anytime soon."
"No. I rather think not." Giles swallowed, and dared to glance at the vampire from the corner of his eye. "You and she?"
Spike stepped back, his hands sliding away from the wall. Giles was wise enough to remain where he was. The vampire tucked a cigarette between his lips and lit it with a flourish of his Zippo. The librarian had to bite his lip to keep from snapping out his 'no smoking' rule.
"That's some girl you have, Watcher. Managed to outsmart me, and dust herself a right loon of a vamp that even I did my best to avoid for the last fifty years."
Giles started. "Kralik is dead? Why would she go after him? I told her how dangerous he was."
"He got his paws on Joyce." Spike exhaled a stream of blue smoke into Giles' face. "You know how he felt about mums, don't you?" he said slyly.
Giles looked a little green around the edges. "Yes," he bit out between tight lips. He rubbed his fingers across his brow. Kralik was a monster, a creature far worse than the one that stood before him. Spike was a killer, but he was amazingly efficient at it. He wasn't one to play, as it were. Kralik, on the other hand, had been something truly obscene.
"And you know the Slayer. It's family, friends, and the world in that order. She always lets herself fall dead dog last, doesn't she?"
Giles nodded absently. "Yes. Regardless of her level of capacity, she is incapable of allowing an innocent to be harmed."
"So tell me, Watcher." Spike threw his cigarette to the floor and ground it out with a slow twist of his heavy boot. "Why'd you do it? She get a little too mouthy for you? A little too frisky at the reins? Or was it Angelus that finally did you in? Couldn't handle your girl being with a vamp?"
Giles flew at him in an angry frenzy. Spike was so startled at the action that he allowed himself to be shoved back a few feet. When the normally soft-spoken librarian went to strike him a second time, Spike grasped him under the elbow and, none too gently, tossed him backwards. The office door shuddered under the man's full weight when he collided with the thin wooden frame.
Spike took a menacing step forward, but the Watcher didn't cower. The master vampire felt a modicum of respect at that. A small smile curled the corner of his lips. It did nothing to lighten the angular harshness of his features.
"Don't make me ask you again, Watcher."
"I never-." Giles sputtered in righteous anger. Realizing he was dangerously close to losing his control, he inhaled deeply through his nose. Once he felt he had his anger locked away, he straightened his tweed vest and squared his shoulders.
"The Cruciamentum is a ritual designed to give the Slayer confidence in herself. It teaches her to use her mind as a weapon and not to rely on her innate strength. Personally, I have never agreed with the moratorium of keeping the ritual secret from the Slayers. I believe they should be fully aware and prepared, but as a Watcher I have no say in such things. However, when I found out exactly who the Council wanted to set my Slayer up against, I refused to participate and informed Buffy immediately. She was never to face that monster. Certainly not while weak. I would never do that to her."
"Do what? Murder her?" Spike asked silkily. Giles swallowed hard but didn't respond. "'Cause that's what's goin' on here. You realize that, don't you, Watcher?
Giles took off his glasses. He intended to give them a good polish; instead he found himself staring sightlessly down at them.
"I admit, when I was informed of Buffy's opponent I knew something was amiss. But to suggest murder-"
Spike looped his thumbs in his belt and rocked on his heels. "I had myself a nice chin-wag with Kralik. Us being family and all."
Giles gave a small snort. "And when did you speak with Kralik? When you and he were trying to kill my Slayer?"
Spike closed in on Giles, poking him hard in the chest. "I had nothin' to do with that atrocity tonight. That's all on you, old man."
"Yes. Quite." Giles looked away, his guilt preventing him from staring down the other man.
"I was there helpin' the daft chit."
Wild horses stampeding through the library couldn't have stunned the Watcher more. "I beg your pardon?"
Spike grinned, his eyeteeth unnaturally long. "She's as daft as they come. Two fries short of a Happy Meal. She's got more loons than toons," he drawled, intentionally obtuse.
Giles gritted his teeth. There had never been a more obnoxious vampire than William the Bloody. "What do you mean, helping her?"
"Need a dictionary, do you? Goes to show how inferior a Cambridge education is."
Giles' empty hand curled into a fist, his arms long and taut along his sides. Spike smirked and folded his arms across his chest in a silent dare for the human to attack him. The Watcher looked away, frustrated.
"Look, the how and the why isn't important. I was there and while the Slayer was rescuing her mum, I was having myself a nice long chat with my not-so-dear brother. He told me that the Council has been keeping him caged up for the last twenty years – the whole time promising he'd get himself a naughty girl who didn't listen to her elders."
Giles stared at him. For a moment, he thought the old man hadn't heard him, but a small, metallic ting echoed in the silence. Spike glanced down and saw the arm of the Watcher's eyeglasses snapped in half.
"They set her up," he whispered. "They intended to rid themselves of her."
"Bloody foolish if you ask me. Slayer line doesn't run through her anymore, does it?"
Giles shot him a sharp look. "How do you know that?"
"Demon grapevine. Hear tell there's a new slayer. A wild, dangerous one. If one's to be snuffed, my money woulda been on her."
Giles pushed himself off the door, and brushed past Spike. He tossed his ruined glasses on the table before leaning against it, straight-armed, his head hung in shame.
"Who's to say they aren't plotting against her as well?" Giles was silent for a long moment before turning around to face Spike. "I just don't understand why they would do this. Buffy is an excellent slayer. Yes, she's a little headstrong. She's prone to outlandish behavior, and her dating choices…But her slaying…I mean she's a little unorthodox, but she gets the job done."
"Does she?" Spike asked in a low, dangerous tone.
Giles shot him a startled look. "What do you mean?"
"How does the Council feel about her continuing to date a vampire who, only a few months ago, was trying to end the world? How do they feel about her cutting a deal giving two dangerous vamps a free pass? Slayer's supposed to work in secret. How do they feel about her having friends and family? Having people who influence her who aren't Council approved?"
"Why should it matter?" Giles exploded. "She saves the world. And does it well, I might add."
"That she does, Watcher. But it seems the Council of Wankers don't see it that way. They want our Slayer dead, and they'll see it through, one way or another."
If the Watcher heard the possessiveness of the vampire, he didn't acknowledge it. The human stared into the distance, his face pinched and eyes dark. If the Council of Watchers wanted Buffy dead, there was nothing he could do about it. They possessed resources he could never defend against. He could scream and protest and give the Council what for, but in the end it would all be meaningless gestures. His Slayer was going to die, and he couldn't save her. Giles cast a sly look at the vampire.
"Why are you here, Spike?"
"Well, now we're getting to it." Spike walked towards the man on silent feet, crowding him against the table. Giles swallowed, but refused to drop his eyes. The vampire leered and dropped something heavy on the mahogany table.
"I just wanted to look into the eyes of man capable of killin' off his girl like she was nothin' more than a calf to slaughter."
Giles was incapable of not looking at the object Spike had dropped. An old, rusted railroad spike lay obscenely on the highly polished wood. He inhaled deeply, but didn't try to flee. He raised his chin a notch and stared down the vampire who intended on painting his precious books red with blood.
"'Course, you tell me what I want to know and I might let you go."
Giles' lips pursed. "It's unlikely I'll tell you anything, vampire."
Spike looked contemplative. "Dunno 'bout that. You just might want to tell me."
"Tell you what?" Giles spat. He highly doubted that he'd ever want to tell the obscene creature anything of import.
The vampire stared at him long and hard. It was only through years of meditative training that Giles didn't fidget under his gaze.
"I want the hangar and departure time of the Council of Wankers' private jet."
Giles fumbled. "What?"
"You heard me, mate. I know they're here. Watchin' and waitin' to see if their little execution went off without a hitch. Now that they've been foiled, they'll scurry back to Merry Ole to reconvene before they put the screws to her again. I want to know when and where."
It was Giles' turn to stare long and hard. It wasn't hard to imagine what a vampire with William the Bloody's reputation would want with such information. However, outright asking would make Giles an accessory. It would make him culpable. But if he had even an inkling, didn't that make him just as culpable? More importantly, did he care?
"It won't change anything. The Council is a bloody hydra. You cut off one head and another emerges."
"Maybe. Or maybe if you cut off enough heads, you'll finally find one that has a lick of sense in it."
Giles frowned. "This is a ridiculous conversation, and I will not participate in it."
Spike leaned closer to whisper intimately in the man's ear. "Angelus told me about Ripper. About how you used to have a set of wrinklies that would do any demon proud. But mostly he told me how vicious you are when it comes to protectin' your own. Tell me, Watcher. What will you do when they come for her? Will you wring your hands and chant 'dear Lord' as they send her off to be split open from groin to gullet by some undefeatable monster, or will you sac up and be the man even Angelus feared?"
Giles' skin was slick with cold sweat and his balls were clenched up tight in the hollow cavern of his body. The vampire was angling closer to his jugular with every predatory advance of his body, and all the cells in Giles' body vibrated with the nearly incontrollable instinct to flee. Instead, he turned his head so his breath was hot on the vampire's cheek. This wasn't intimacy. This was death.
"I could give a bloody fuck what that bastard thinks of me. If it wasn't for my Slayer I would have sent him screaming back to hell the moment he resurrected."
Spike grinned, but all Giles saw was the whiteness of his teeth. "That would be somethin' worth seeing, Watcher, but not really why we're here. You'd do anythin' for your Slayer. Do this, and let me do the rest. She'll be safe as houses by the time I'm through."
The men drew apart, and Giles took a shaky breath. Spike refused to look at the other man, but Giles couldn't seem to look away from the vampire. He wanted to know why William the Bloody suddenly had a bug up his arse about the Slayer and the Council of Watchers.
"Does a vamp need a reason for a spot of violence?"
"Normally, I'd say no. But you…" Giles' eyes widened. The chronicles on Spike were sparse, but the information was specific. He did nothing without a reason. He hunted Slayers because he wanted the challenge and the fame that came with winning. His only other notable bouts of violence usually revolved around Drusilla in some way. Spike hadn't started the mob in Prague – that had been his paramour's doing – but he'd certainly ended it with horrifying ruthlessness. Perhaps it wasn't the Slayer and the Council that Spike was interested in after all, but the girl herself.
"Don't get your tweed knickers in a twist, imagin' somethin' that's not." The vampire spun the heavy spike still sitting on the table. It rumbled loudly over the polished surface. "You've read up on me, I suppose?"
"Yes," Giles replied cautiously.
"Know how I came about my name?"
"You drove railroad spikes through your victims."
Spike snatched up the iron weapon with vampiric speed and drove it into the table. The wood splintered white beneath the hardwood polish as the vampire dragged the spike towards the end of the table, digging a wide trench in the mahogany.
"Did your diaries note that all those victims knew each other? That they ran in the same circles in the Ton?"
"I believe it was noted, but considered coincidental," Giles mused, carefully watching the weapon the vampire was known to use with malicious ruthlessness.
The vampire dropped the spike and straight-armed the table, turning his head to look at the Watcher. "Now, I'm a-goin' ta tell you a secret that's not to go into your buggerin' diaries." The vampire's eyes glittered with deadly seriousness and Giles nodded solemnly.
"I knew those men in my human life. Every single one of them. They were elitist bullies. They thought nothin' of pickin' on those weaker than them, and using people as tools for their own benefit."
Spike straightened, and fished out a small square of paper from his pocket. "I don't like bullies. That's all the Council of Wankers are. Bullies. They think they own Buffy. That she's theirs, mind, body and soul. They think nothin' of killin' her, 'cause she's nothin' more than a thing to them. A tool for their own benefit." He handed the paper to Giles. "Call me before they escape. Don't let Buffy die because some pansy-arsed tweed coat beat the Ripper out of you twenty years ago. You and I both know that right and wrong isn't always black and white."
Giles' hand didn't shake a bit when he took the square of paper from the murderous master vampire.