Disclaimer: I don't own this universe or characters. I just like to play house.

Common Ground

Having William the Bloody chained up in his bathroom wasn't an experience that Rupert Giles was too eager to prolong. However, when he was asked By Buffy to keep an eye on the vampire he couldn't find it in himself to refuse. His slayer made him feel like he couldn't refuse and it wasn't the fact that she could break his arm like a twig. No - Buffy was the daughter he never had. She had asked and he had opened his home to the bleached menace. He didn't believe Spike had any worthwhile information to impart. Nevertheless, here he was babysitting the vampire and getting a pounding headache for his trouble as Spike was yelling about some television programme. He was attempting to do the crossword in the newspaper as was his habit in the afternoon and the vampire was making it very difficult to concentrate.

Spike's whinging from the bath was really starting to grate on Giles' nerves. "Passions is on!"

Giles could hear the rattling of chains in the bathroom. "Let me out you wanker."

Unable to restrain himself any longer Giles snapped. "Shut up!"

Spike's response was to continue clanging and banging, and eventually Giles had no other choice but to relent. He went into the bathroom and grumpily released the vampire.

"You're worse than a mewling infant," he groused.

Spike pushed past him without a word of thanks. Giles took a deep breath trying to keep his temper in check. What did he expect? It wasn't like the vampire had shown an inclination to be mannerly before. He really must get Buffy to put Spike somewhere else. Having Spike living in his bathroom was really inconvenient never mind the fact his houseguest was most unpleasant. Giles made his way back to his living room, where the vampire was sitting on his armchair feet up on the table and the television blasting. He gritted his teeth and picked up the newspaper he had abandoned when he had gone to free the vampire. He turned his attention back to the crossword on page five and tried vainly to ignore the noise.

When the torture that was Passions was over, Giles turned off the television. He gave a relieved sigh. Spike stretched his arms out. "I'm all pins and needles, Rupes. It's the cramped conditions you have me in."

"Spike, you don't have circulation."

"You wouldn't keep a prisoner of war in conditions like mine."

"Prisoners of war are usually human. You're not human; you're a monster."

Spike was about to argue but Giles held up a quelling hand. "Fine. You can just irritate me here then. Otherwise, you'll only be assaulting my ear drums from the bathroom." He didn't have the wherewithal to continue arguing with Spike. He went into the kitchen to make a cup of Earl Grey. It might sooth his nerves. He filled the kettle and turned in on. He could feel the vampire's gaze and it made him uncomfortable. After all Spike was a predator and he would have been easy prey back before the chip. He quickly shoved away the feeling. If anyone would have the upper hand these days it was him. As long as the chip worked then he had nothing to be afraid of. He looked over at the vampire who was smirking. Spike probably smelt his fear. Giles turned back to his task and decided not to give the vampire the satisfaction. When he came back into his living room the vampire was looking at him strangely. "Do you ever miss it?"

Giles was confused. "Miss what? What are you talking about?"

"I'm talking about the mother country. You're an Englishman on the other side of the world. The Yanks don't get Queen Lizzie, Man United or marmite."

The watcher found himself answering honestly. "I miss proper tea. They don't import the proper stuff here. " What was this? Spike was making small talk.

Spike nodded. "I know how you feel, mate. The Yanks have no idea how to brew a cup."

He raised a curious eyebrow. "You drink tea?" An image of Spike in his leather duster with a tea cup and a saucer came into his mind making him fight to keep a smile off his face. Would Spike hold his little finger out?

The vampire seemed oblivious to his amusement. If he didn't know better he would say Spike was offended. "I prefer blood, but I'm still an Englishman at heart. You watchers think you know everything about vampires. You've a lot to learn, grasshopper."

Giles rolled his eyes. "I doubt you could teach me anything worthwhile," he murmured. It was a lie to tell the truth. Spike was a curious creature. He couldn't help but be fascinated at the human capabilities he seemed to possess even though he was a monster. "If you're such a proud Englishman then tell me what you miss."

"I never said I was proud." Spike raised a brow. "I'll answer your question though. I miss football. Not what Harris would call football with all the nancy boy padding. I miss real sport like English football and rugby."

Giles smiled and nodded. "And I don't understand this fascination with baseball either."

Spike fiddled in his pockets and pulled out a battered box of cigarettes and a lighter. "I suppose you would have been a cricket man back in the day?"

The vampire held out the box offering him one. Giles took one gratefully and put it to his lips. Ever since his stint as Ripper after the band candy incident he had taken to the odd cigarette. Spike lit his own cigarette and offered him the lighter. He took it and took a much needed puff before he answered the question. "I was, and I played a little rugby too. It was a prerequisite in school. What about you?"

"I never was particularly good but I've played both."

Giles frowned. It seemed despite their many differences, they had a lot common. That was a disquieting thought. Now would be a good time to get a glass of scotch. He found himself pouring a glass for the vampire as well. He didn't know why, but he put it down to not wanting to drink alone.

It took an hour, but they almost had the bottle of scotch finished. Giles had learned some interesting stories about Spike's past and he had in turned divulged some of his darker secrets. As a Watcher he really shouldn't be telling the vampire about his adventures in the Watcher's academy. However, the alcohol had loosened his tongue. Spike was finished telling him a rather embellished sounding tale about how he had met Billy Idol and passed on some grooming tips.

"Everybody tells me I look like Billy Idol. He was the one that stole my image."

Giles chucked. "You're an awful liar."

"I'm not lying." Spike's eyes flashed yellow for a moment. "Billy Idol stole my look."

The watcher was amused at his indignation.

Spike continued, "I'll have you know I'm a good liar. I'm evil! Lying's all part of the vampire package"

"Of course you think being a vampire is something to be proud of."

"Yeah – I was a right prat as a human."

"Tell me about your life as a human. The Watcher diaries are very lacking on your backstory."

Spike shook his head. "No way am I letting you use me as your case study. It's enough that I allow you lock me up in your bathroom. A bloke's got to have some dignity. Besides, I've had enough time spent being surrounded by the mad scientists noting my every move and reaction when I got locked up by the soldier boys."

The vampire drained down the rest of his glass and Giles filled the two glasses again emptying the bottle as he did so. It really said a lot about his social life that was stuck inside drinking with his "prisoner".

Giles laughed hollowly. "It's so pathetic to be here drinking with you."

"Thanks ever so. It's not exactly high on my list either. Feeling sorry for yourself are you?"

"I used to be somebody who was respected and whose opinion was sought out and listened to. Now I'm the butt of all their jokes."

Spike stretched his hand behind his head. "I know the feeling, Rupes."

Giles rubbed the top of his nose. "Don't call me that. It's almost as bad as G-man."

The vampire rolled his eyes. "Just saying I was regarded as a Big Bad once."

Giles couldn't prevent the scoffing noise.

Spike looked offended. "Hey – I killed two slayers. Name another vampire that did the same. Before the chip the slayer respected and now I'm just her punching bag."

The watcher shook his head. "Buffy never respected you, Spike. She never took you seriously even when you were evil."

"I'm still evil." Spike's eyes narrowed menacingly.

Giles couldn't help but needle him. "Perhaps that was the wrong choice of words. I should have said before you were neutered."

The vampire glowered. "Is this how you get your kicks? Tell me is because you're not getting enough satisfaction in the trouser department or because you're not getting any?"

Giles blushed at this uncouth question, and as he wasn't willing to concede defeat in the war of words opted for a change of topic instead. "You ought to be grateful she didn't dust you when you turned up at my door."

"I was looking for help. That's what you white hats do don't you. You help the helpless and it turns out you drink with them too."

Giles couldn't help the snort that escaped him and pretty soon both Watcher and vampires were roaring with laughter. Giles wondered again for the umpteenth time how it happened that he and Spike actually were having a civilised conversation. He consoled himself with the idea they could go back to hating each other in the morning. Hatred was a lot less complicated.

The end