A/N- A thousand thanks to my beta, Anaiya Illyria. Standard disclaimers apply. This story takes place about a week after Glamour.
The sky was overcast and dreary, and rain was falling lightly over the city.
"Another day in London," Giles muttered to himself. He turned away from the rain streaked window and turned towards his kitchen. He picked up his tea pot just in time to prevent the high pitched whistle he knew was coming. Giles allowed himself a small smile. He hadn't been home very long, a little over two weeks, and he felt something was missing. He just couldn't place his finger on it. Three days ago he'd begun a list trying to ferret out just what it was that was making him restless. He'd thought that it was romantics, but his few trysts with Olivia had refuted that theory. Today, he'd finally figured it out. He was missing his friends.
Giles thought that escaping Sunnydale, leaving behind the place of his Slayer's death, would alleviate the infinite sense of loss that had filled him since the fateful day that Buffy had died. In the end, the only thing he'd left behind were the only people who understood what he was feeling. Of course, he had contacted Sam Zabuto, Kendra's watcher, to discuss how he was getting along. Zabuto seemed no more distraught than he would have been had he broken his favourite tea cup. To him, indeed, to the whole of the Watcher's Council, Slayer's were merely tools, easily replaced when after they break.
Giles sighed disgustedly, recalling his conversation long ago with Quentin Travers about how the Slayer's were more than weapons. Just thinking about the man was enough to rile him up, and Giles wasn't feeling up to it today. He let his thoughts return to his friends back in Sunnydale. He was a little surprised that he had come to think of them as such. It seemed that just yesterday that Willow and Xander had stumbled into his library and into his life. They were so young then and yet so ready to aid their friends in the face of danger, lacking even the rudimentary knowledge of what they would come up against. They weren't quite so young anymore, and had experience that seasoned military men would envy, but the one thing that never changed was their love of one another. And he had abandoned them, that familial bond, in search of... what? The easing of his pain? Giles shook his head. He had been down this line of thinking before, and it did nothing to raise his spirits. He finished making his tea, two sugars, and sat down to relax when the phone rang. Giles, caught up in his thoughts, jumped at the sound and sent his tea crashing to the floor. He immediately thought of Buffy, and couldn't figure out why. The phone rang again, causing Giles to curse loudly before moving to pick it up.
"What the bloody hell do you want?" Giles was angry, and couldn't keep it out of his voice. He immediately regretted the way he'd answered the phone, but felt justified when he heard the voice on the other line.
"Well, now, that's no way to treat a fellow countryman. It's not proper." The man on the other line pronounced it "propah", the way every good Englishman would. However, Giles knew the man he was speaking with was no good Englishman.
"Spike." He said it with such disdain that Spike couldn't help but laugh.
"Come on, Rupert, you can't hate me all that much, what leavin' Little Bit in my care an' all."
"What do you want, Spike? I'm not sending you any more money." Giles took his glasses off and began rubbing the bridge of his nose between his eyes.
"Right. Man of few words for a change. I like it. Why I'm callin' is simple. You need to come back to Sunnydale." Giles was momentarily stunned and couldn't formulate a response. When he did, his voice was acid.
"Why in the hell would I go back there? More importantly, why would I do it for you of all creatures? What game are you playing here?" He added extra emphasis to show his disdain for Spike and his vampiric ilk.
"Keep your knickers on, grandpa, it's not for me. You know damn good and well that I don't much like you, and I'm well aware that the feelin's mutual. Thing's 'ave been hectic 'round here, what with the CPS inspection and the Buffy/Willow body swap. I tell ya' th—"
"What did you just say?" Giles interrupted Spike midsentence. "What body swap?"
"Oh." Spike was taken aback, and even felt a little sorry for the man. "They never called you. Bloody hell." Spike paused, and Giles was certain that he could hear the spark of flint on Spike's end of the line. After Spike filled his lungs with smoke from, what Giles would've bet money on, Morley brand, he continued speaking. "Ugh, I'm not good at the magic mumbo-jumbo, but something happened and Buffy came back, but in Willow's body. She got to say her goodbyes all propah like before goin' back to whatever heaven she was pulled out of." Spike gave Giles a few moments to process the information. Giles' face at first showed confusion, followed quickly by pain. He was suddenly very happy that no one was around to see him. When he had pulled his thoughts together, he began speaking again.
"I see. Why exactly do think I need to return?" His calm voice would have fooled anyone other than Spike. He could imagine what the man was feeling, and didn't begrudge him trying to hide his pain.
"Child Services showed up when all this was goin' down, the mess with Buffy. She put on a good show, got 'em to call of the dogs for awhile, but it's not gonna last. She won't be here next time. We need a permanent solution. Who else but you?"
"Who else but me what?" Giles was genuinely confused by Spike's statement. He couldn't follow through his logic.
"Look, mate, you were basically Buffy's dad, yeah? I mean, she 'ad a dad, but he's crazier than a sack a' hammers an' left those girls to their fates after their mum died. So, way I look at it, you're the best option to play father figure to Nibblet."
"Spike, I… I have a life here. I can't just drop everything to return to Sunnydale. And to be a father? I don't know if I can." He knew that, in reality, nothing was keeping him in London, nor in the whole of England, for that matter. However, he honestly didn't know if he was up to task of raising a child.
"That's bollocks, Rupert, and you bloody well know it! You raised Buffy as much as Joyce did, well, after you came into her life anyway."
"No, Spike, I trained a soldier, not raise a girl."
"Hell, life's a battlefield anyway; what's the difference?" Giles sighed, realizing that Spike was set in his stance. Spike continued before he could be refuted. "Everyone here needs you, Rupert. Red and Dawn have been a wreck since the ordeal, and Xander hasn't been much help. The rest of us, we didn't know her as long, know her as well, so we weren't affected as bad." Giles knew Spike was lying, at least about his own pain, but he decided to let the vampire continue without interruption. "We've been trying to help out as much as we can, but hell; we're talkin' about me, the ex-vengeance queen, and Tara. We can't man this ship, Giles. It's fallin' apart."
Giles fought back another sigh. On the one hand, he was saddened by the pain his friends were feeling, and he was also furious that Spike, of all people, was the only one with the decency to call. On the other hand, he was also feeling needed for the first time in months. It was a strange but altogether welcome feeling. The Englishman was torn, and didn't know which direction to go.
"I don't know what you're expecting of me, or what you want me to say."
"With Joyce and Buffy in the ground, you're the last authority figure this lot 'as ever had, Rupert. I expect you come back, look out for Dawnie, for the rest of 'em, because there is no one else who can. I made a promise to her, to protect Dawn, and when I can't do it, I need people who can. No one else saw what you did with Ben durin' the Glory thing. I know you've got what it takes, push come to shove, and none o' the rest of 'em can say the same." Giles winced at the mention of the past summer and his deed with Ben. He regretted the way that it had had to end but didn't regret his actions. As Spike said, it had to be done.
"Come back Rupert. They need you." With that, Spike hung up the phone, leaving Giles listening to dead air. He had yet to fully collect his thoughts when his end started beeping, alerting him that the other line was closed. It caused Giles to start again, and he dropped the phone as a result.