Sequel to Shades of Grey 2: The Favour; part of The Shades of Grey Series
Summary: Spike has a message for Giles, but will either of them understand the truth before it is too late?
Author Notes: Thanks to Matt and Emma for proof reading. I am a feedback junkie, please support my habit.
Story Notes: Post "The Gift". Season six never happened and Buffy stayed dead. Part 3 of 6.
Disclaimer: I don't own any of them. Joss Whedon and co do.
"Who are you, and why?" Rupert Giles mumbled aloud as he read the local newspaper in the evening.
The front page headline read, "Vigilante saves girls from mugging", and went on to report that a lone man rescued two women from muggers who had "Halloween masks or something on, because their faces were weird." Giles suspected, of course, that that meant the "muggers" were in fact vampires. The vigilante had run off before the women could get a name, or even, it seemed, a decent description. It was the same as several other reports of a mysterious vigilante that had turned up in the papers over the past couple of weeks, and by now the police had made a number of pleas for the individual to come forward, but all went unanswered.
Well, Giles knew that at least a couple of those reports were actually about him, and he had no intention of coming forward and revealing his identity. It would only make him a target for vampires and genuine muggers. He suspected the vigilante felt the same, and if the individual not only knew of the existence of vampires, but specifically went hunting them, it would also make sense for them to remain hidden. But still, Giles wondered at the man's identity, if only to prevent any unfortunate incidents if they ever met each other while out vampire hunting.
Giles had been doing a lot of that lately. Since his trip to Nottingham with Spike, he had discovered with some pleasant surprise that fighting vampires was something he was still more than capable of doing, and he had taken to patrolling Bath city centre two or three nights a week. In such a short time he had killed more vampires than he had ever even suspected inhabited the city. Of course, Bath was nothing like on a scale with Sunnydale, but it was enough to keep a retired Watcher busy.
Giles was disturbed from his reading by a knock at the door. He opened it to find Spike standing on his porch, smoking. The vampire smelled strongly of alcohol, and Giles could pick out the individual aromas of both beers and spirits. He noted with some distaste that there appeared to be an empty beer can on his lawn that hadn't been there that afternoon, so he assumed Spike was responsible for that.
In spite of the smell, he seemed only slightly unfocused, rather than the steaming drunk Giles had half expected. It suddenly occurred to Giles that he had never got around to uninviting Spike, even after the promise he had made to do just that after the Nottingham incident. He mentally berated himself for the omission, but consoled himself with the thought that not only was Spike chipped, he was also currently drunk, so what exactly could he do to harm him?
Giles sighed. "Don't you ever just phone any more?"
Spike scowled slightly. "That's no way to welcome an old friend. After I came all this way to see you as well. So, can I come in?"
Giles stood back from the doorway and gestured for him to enter. "I never got round to revoking the last invite to be honest."
The vampire strolled in, still smoking.
"Convenient that. Makes it so much easier to do this."
His fist arced out of nowhere and hit Giles in the face. Giles staggered backwards, too stunned to retaliate. Spike grabbed the front of Giles' shirt and held him while he punched him in the face a couple more times. Then he bodily threw him across the room.
Giles was too winded to even try to get up. What the hell was going on? There was something very wrong with this scenario, and he suddenly realised what it was. Spike wasn't screaming. That meant no pain. That meant no chip.
"Oh shit," was the only thing he had time to say before Spike vaulted over the sofa and grabbed him again. He hauled Giles upright and slammed him back against the wall beside the fireplace and pinned him there, his forearm resting almost casually across Giles' chest.
"Well, well, well," Spike said, game face on and his suddenly yellow demonic eyes staring straight at Giles. "Isn't this... different?"
In spite of the smell, Giles realised now that Spike was not at all drunk. Somehow he had managed to keep the cigarette in his mouth the entire time and he inhaled deeply and blew smoke into Giles' face.
Giles was still trying to catch his breath from before and began to choke on the smoke for a moment.
"Oh, come on. Don't you go and asphyxiate on me now." Spike sounded almost offended. "That's a boring way to die. What I've got planned is far more interesting."
Giles managed to breathe again, in spite of the pressure on his upper chest. How had he managed to forget just how strong the vampire was? Probably in the same way that he had become complacent about inviting him in, even socialising with him for god's sake. The chip had been there for so long he had simply forgotten what Spike really was, allowed himself to believe that the new way of things was permanent. Well, look where complacency had got him. William the Bloody was back with a vengeance, and Giles was suddenly sure he would not walk out of this room alive.
Still, his gaze flicked around briefly for anything he might be able to use to escape. He saw the katana he had taken from the Rasjahn demon in Nottingham, mounted on the wall to his left. Spike followed his look and grinned.
"Don't even think about it. You'll be dead before you get halfway to it."
Giles suspected he was right. But there had to be some way out of this. He needed to stall, distract the vampire a little longer.
"So what happened to the chip?"
Giles realised even as he spoke that he actually did want to know. After all this time, how had Spike beaten it?
"Well, that's an interesting story," Spike said, obviously pleased that Giles had asked, and looking forward to telling it. "You see, it started with this old ex-Watcher mate of mine who owed me a favour. He helped me get a crystal that just happened to be the final component needed for a demon I know to work his mojo on my little government chip, and now look where we are. My electronic leash has been disconnected, and it's all thanks to you, Rupert." He grinned maliciously. "So, the thing I'm wondering now is, what can I possibly do to say thank you?"
For a moment Giles was horrified that he had, however unwittingly, aided Spike's return to his homicidal tendencies. He hadn't known, he couldn't have known what Spike wanted the crystal for. But this was Spike, and he should have remembered to be more careful. If the fault was his, then it lay not so much in the aid he had given, but more in the fact that he had allowed himself to become complacent about the chip, and about Spike's true nature.
The problem now was not what he had done, but what Spike was going to do.
Giles forced himself to focus on Spike's last comment, and said, "I imagine you're going to murder me in some rather bloody and inventive manner, and leave my drained corpse for the neighbours to find."
"You know, you're probably right," Spike said, looking rather pleased with the answer he had received. "I think the draining issue is kind of obligatory. The real issue is what happens after that." He paused for a moment and licked his lips. "Have you ever considered becoming immortal, Giles?"
Oh shit, was the only thought Giles was considering right then.
"I never made a companion," Spike said, almost conversationally. His free hand moved towards Giles' face and he involuntarily flinched even further against the wall. Instead of the expected attack, though, Spike straightened his glasses for him and pushed them back up his nose.
"All those years, I never made myself a companion. Oh, don't get me wrong. I made vampires. Plenty of them. But they were all minions, cannon fodder. I never made one that I wanted to keep, not like Dru made me."
Spike carefully brushed Giles' hair away from his face and let his ice-cold fingers trail down the side of his cheek. As if he were drinking in the sight of the older man's features for the first time. Or the last.
"You. You could be with me. With all your knowledge, all your skill, and plus I know you already have that little streak of Ripper inside you. You would make an amazing vampire. The things we could do together. The chaos we could cause. I think we could be together for a century, at least, before it gets boring. What do you think?"
Giles wasn't impressed. He could barely stand the man's company for more than ten minutes, let alone a century or more.
He summoned all the anger and hate he could find, and spat back, "I think if you're going to do it you should just get on with it and stop talking, you arrogant, self-obsessed little wanker."
Spike threw his head back and laughed. When he looked back at Giles his demonic features had gone, and he contemplated Giles for a moment longer before he said, "Maybe later."
Then he turned and walked away.
What the hell?
Giles realised he didn't have time to think. He had to act.
He grabbed the sword from the wall and ran after the vampire. He thrust the sword at his back. But Spike had heard him coming and was already twisting round, and the sword went into his side. Giles pulled it back out and readied a swing as Spike somehow stumbled over his own feet turning round, and ended up sitting on the floor, staring up at Giles with a shocked expression. Giles swung the sword down to decapitate him.
Then he realised.
The sword stopped in the middle of its arc, the blade touching Spike's neck. Giles held it steady, staring deep into the vampire's blue eyes.
"Why?" Giles asked in a level voice.
Spike seemed to suddenly realise that he wasn't dead, that he wasn't about to die. Giles saw in his eyes a mixture of confusion, and disappointment. He didn't reply.
Giles tried again. "Why do you want me to kill you?"
"What? I don't..."
Giles applied a little more pressure to the blade, and blood welled along its edge. Spike stopped talking and winced, but still didn't move.
"For the first time in your life, Spike, stop lying to me. We both know that if you came here to kill me I would have been a drained corpse on the floor long before now. And if you wanted to fight I couldn't beat you. So I have to assume that you let me attack you, you allowed yourself to end up in your current position at my mercy. So I ask again, why do you want me to kill you?"
"You got lucky," Spike growled.
Giles realised his arms were becoming tired from holding the sword in this stance. He tightened his grip and pressed the blade even harder.
"Bollocks. We've been standing here doing an impression of Reservoir Dogs with swords instead of guns for, what, a minute already? We both know damn well that with your speed and reflexes you could have taken this sword from me and run it through my chest before I even had chance to blink. And as for the taunting and threats, I should have guessed straight away. That isn't your style. It might be Angelus' modus operandi to psyche out his intended victims, but it was never yours. If you want someone dead you go out and kill them. So why haven't you?"
Spike suddenly batted the sword out of Giles' hand and leapt to his feet. They faced each other for a long moment, not moving, Giles barely daring to breathe.
What the hell was going on? Had he just made a supreme error of judgement? He thought he had understood what he saw when he had looked into Spike's eyes, but what if he hadn't? What if he had just wasted his only chance of surviving beyond the end of this meeting?
Then Spike turned and ran.
He was out of the door and into the darkness before Giles could even think about going to retrieve the sword, and he simply stared after him for a long time before he finally convinced himself that the vampire had gone. Then he quickly went to slam the door shut, and ran to his books, determined to find the uninviting spell this time.
Three hours later, Giles' house was once again Spike-proof. Giles was still having trouble actually believing the events that had unfolded in this very room not so long ago, though. However, the bruising on his face was more than enough proof, if proof were needed.
The problem was, the more Giles thought about what had happened, the less sense it made. If Spike had got the chip deactivated and wanted to kill him, then why was he, Giles, still alive? And if Spike hadn't wanted to kill him, then why had he come here to tell him about it? In that moment of lucidity, staring into the vampire's face as he offered death on the blade of a sword, Giles had thought he understood what Spike had really wanted.
But that simply wasn't possible.
Giles knew it was possible for a demon to commit suicide. Spike had tried to do it himself back when he had first got the chip put in. So why on earth would he try what amounted to the same thing now that he had got the chip deactivated?
So the answer was simple. Giles had read him wrong. That wasn't what he had wanted at all. It couldn't be. But at the same time, everything he, Giles, had said was true. Logically speaking, if Spike had wanted to kill him, he would have done so. If he wanted to stop Giles from killing him, he could have done so.
So why hadn't he?
Giles went over to get his coat and vampire hunting gear - cross, stake, holy water, the usual. He had intended to go out patrolling that night anyway, but he was suddenly uncertain. Walking the streets of Bath if a quite possibly insane Spike was around was not the most sensible, or safe thing to do. But on the other hand, Giles reminded himself, that was precisely the reason why he should be out patrolling tonight. He knew what to expect from Spike, how to deal with him. If Spike was hanging around the city, Giles knew that a lot of lives might well depend on him being the one to find the vampire first.
Of course, he didn't even know if Spike was hanging around Bath. It occurred to Giles that in the entire of the last four and a half years since he had been dealing with the vampire, he had never once asked where he was based, if he had a home somewhere. He knew that Spike's travels took him all over the world looking for items he could sell on. In just the last six months he had mentioned places as far afield as Paris and Iraq, but somehow Giles suspected he always ended up back in England.
So, whether or not Spike was in Bath that night, Giles knew he had to be there himself, keeping the streets as safe as it was possible to do in a decently sized city.
Some hours later, with dawn not so very far off, Giles reflected on the fact that on the night when he was more tensed for trouble than any other time in recent memory, he had seen the least action yet on any of his patrols. Since he had arrived in the city centre at half past eleven, he had seen any number of bar fights taken out onto the street, and at least two groups of drunken students making their merry way down the road, oblivious to the dangers of crime or traffic. But he had seen no demon activity at all. No vampires. Not even the harmless Draca demon that he occasionally bribed for information.
It was always possible that the vampires had got wise to the fact that there was not one, but probably two vigilante vampire hunters out there, and were staying quiet, or getting out of town for somewhere a little safer.
Giles was beginning to wonder about going home when he heard a squeal from an alleyway further down the road. He immediately tensed for action and ran to the corner, peering round to get an idea of what was happening before he rushed blindly in. Three young women, barely more than girls in Giles' opinion, which probably meant students, were being backed against the wall by four males, obviously vampires. One of the girls offered her handbag to the creature menacing her, babbling something about her purse. The vampire batted the handbag away with a laugh.
Four of them. Shit. Giles was good at this, and he wasn't going to stand by and let this happen. But four of them? He made sure he had the cross gripped tightly in one hand, and his stake in the other. Then he slid round the corner into the alley, hugging the shadows by the wall until he got closer.
One of the vampires exploded into dust.
To say that Giles was surprised was an understatement. He hadn't even got close enough to touch them, let alone stake them. It was someone else. The vigilante? He couldn't see in the shadows, but he was aware of a fight, the remaining three vampires turning as one to face the attacker, and another one dusted before the man stepped out of the darkness.
Giles had been about to move in to help the vigilante, but he stopped dead and remained in the shadows, watching to see exactly what was about to play out. Spike stood back and let the two vampires rush him. They scuffled briefly before Spike kicked one of them away and the other stepped back.
"Oh, come on, you can do better than that, surely?" Spike complained. "I just dusted your pals. How about you getting a bit of vengeance?"
They both dived on him together and for a few moments they brawled, up close and dirty. Spike was thrown against the alley wall, and he grinned.
"That's more like it. Come on. Think you can take me?"
One of them picked up the stake Spike had used on his two friends and Spike grinned even wider, and threw his arms out, leaving his chest unprotected. Giles almost intervened, but before he could move the vampire threw the stake. It bounced off the wall beside Spike.
"Incompetent tosser," Spike said, with obvious disdain. He pulled another stake out of his pocket and quickly dispatched one of the vampires. The other simply decided at that point to flee. Spike let the retreating vampire go, and just stood in the alleyway, panting hard for unneeded breath after the fight.
One of the girls, the one who had been offering her purse, went over to him. Giles almost called out, warned her not to go near him, but stopped himself before the words formed. He still wanted to see how this was going to end, and if the worst came, he was sure he could distract the vampire long enough for the girls to run away.
"Are you alright mister?" She reached out to Spike, but he jerked away from her touch, and Giles suddenly saw in the new light angle that he still had his demon face on.
"Hey, no. You just totally saved us from those guys. We should call the police or something." The girl was trying to move round to get in front of him. Spike suddenly turned and grabbed her shoulders roughly. For a moment he leaned close to her and Giles thought he was about to feed. He readied his stake.
"I said, go away." His voice was little more than a low growl, and the girl shrieked. She must have seen his face. Spike suddenly let go of her.
She did just that, taking her two friends with her.
Spike watched them go, and stood there for a while longer, with a look that might have been disappointment, before he started to walk slowly back towards the main road. He passed Giles and was almost at the end of the alley before Giles came out of the shadows.
He stopped and half turned back to glance at him. There was a slight smile on his face.
"I knew you were there, Giles. Enjoy the show?"
"Not particularly, although I must say I'm surprised at the ending."
Spike almost laughed, and his face reverted to human. "Full of surprises, I am." His voice sounded a little hollow.
Giles considered what he had just seen. If Spike was the vigilante from the newspapers, then it meant that he had been picking fights with demons for the past couple of weeks, and saving a lot of humans at the same time. If he could hurt and kill humans now, that made no sense either. Unless.
"Still got a death wish then?"
Giles wondered why he was even trying to engage him in conversation. But he realised at that point that he did want to understand what the hell was going on. And there was only one person who could explain that.
Spike shrugged, eyes downcast. "I don't seem to have had much success so far."
"You know there are easier and more guaranteed ways of killing yourself if you really want to."
"Yeah. But I've still got just about enough self-respect to want to go down fighting." He flexed his fist a little. "Thing is, I keep winning."
Giles nodded. "That will happen if you pick fights with the first gang of vampires you come across. Surely something a little more challenging would be a fitting final battle?"
Spike snorted. "What? You mean like a Slayer? I've thought about it. Thing is, I have this annoying tendency to outlive all the Slayers I meet. Besides, I already went to one of the few people worthy of taking me down. You refused."
Giles stopped, reeling slightly from the rather backhanded compliment he had just been paid. He noted that the sky to the east was growing lighter. Within a few minutes the sun would rise over the building across the road and shine directly down this alleyway. At that point, Spike's semblance of choice in the method of his own death would be taken away from him for good. He saw that Spike had seen what was about to happen as well. Still he didn't move.
"Spike?" Giles hesitated to ask. "Have you...? Do you have a soul?"
Spike laughed loud for a second before he quickly subsided.
"A soul? Oh god, no. That would be the ironic comedy version of this. No, Giles. I'm still one hundred percent demon in here. That's the funny part. Hell, if I did have a soul at least I'd have an excuse."
"An excuse?" Giles suddenly thought he knew what was going on, but he wanted to hear it from Spike himself, and suspected he was about to get the explanation he needed to understand.
"Eight years," Spike said, voice still hollow, curiously devoid of emotion. "All this time I've wanted one thing. And now I've got it..." He trailed off.
Giles was still waiting for the explanation, so he remained where he was at a distance, watching the vampire carefully.
"All that time I thought it was the chip. It was stopping me. Holding me back. If I could just get it out, I'd be okay. I'd be what I was. But now. Now I find out it was changing me. All that time, I was changing. And now I can't go back. I thought it was the chip. But it wasn't. It was me."
Giles slowly put the stake and cross back in his pocket. He sensed the immediate threat, if there ever had been one, had passed. Spike didn't want to hurt him. Ironically he wanted the same thing that Giles did - to understand. And answers, if there were any to be had, would not be found at the end of a wooden stake.
"I couldn't kill them." Spike was staring at the floor, talking as much to himself as he was to Giles. "Those girls, all of them, all the humans. All there for the taking. And you know, I couldn't kill them."
Giles felt that Spike perhaps needed something to know that he was listening, but Giles had no real idea what to say. Eventually he said, "I know."
"I wanted to."
Giles nodded. "I know."
"But I couldn't."
Giles couldn't give him the answers he so obviously wanted. He could only give him the encouragement to go on.
"I'm not good." It was almost a protest, a denial.
"I know." Giles actually agreed with the statement.
"I..." he stumbled over the words, and then finished quietly, "I don't understand why."
"I know," Giles said softly.
"Giles." Spike looked up and met Giles' eyes for the first time since he had started speaking. "What am I?"
It wasn't a question; it was a plea. Suddenly Spike seemed less like a vampire in excess of a hundred years old, and more like a small, frightened child, desperately seeking justification from an older, wiser father. But Giles wasn't that figure. He couldn't be. But he knew at that moment that Spike had no one else, and for whatever reason he had chosen Giles to fulfil a role that hadn't been needed since Angelus had become Angel, and abandoned his progeny to their fates.
How strange. Less than twelve hours ago they had been trying to kill each other.
What am I?
Giles slowly walked over to him.
"That, I'm afraid I don't know." He glanced at the rapidly lightening sky at the end of the alleyway. "But if you stand here much longer neither of us will ever find out."
Giles indicted the opposite end of the alleyway, inviting Spike to walk with him. He knew there was still plenty of shadow between here and where they needed to get to. With one backward glance, Spike slowly fell into step beside him.
As they walked, Giles couldn't help but wonder what this new dawn would bring to them both.