Charachters: Giles, Dawn, Spike, Xander
Genre: Fiction -
Rating: M - language and mentions of death, violence
Prompt: For SOG13 summer_of_giles
Disclaimer: Charachters belong to someone cleverer than I. Just having a free for all play with them. The sandbox is big enough for all of us.
Summary: An Au of early S6 BTVS.
A/N: This was intended to be a short Spike/Giles but somehow I needed to set up the scene and things lengthened and then R.L. intervened. Once I reorganise my messy life I intend to continue.
Giles was in the kitchen putting on the kettle for a desperately needed cup of tea. He still wasn’t sleeping very well and the heaviness in his chest seemed as though it was a permanent fixture. It had been three weeks since they had laid his slayer to rest.
Three weeks since they had stood by the simple headstone whispering words, holding each other. Three weeks since the weight had filled his body and set like concrete. Three weeks watching the children comfort each other; begin to return to their lives, albeit with sorrow still etched in their faces.
He’d lost the only daughter he’d probably ever had. He’d lost her in a battle he could have prevented if only he’d believed the bleached idiot. Ben was Glory. Glory was Ben. He felt no remorse for his hand in the final solution to that problem. He felt only the remorse of what might have been, if he’d acted earlier.
He felt too, the guilt of having gone into battle at odds with his slayer. She’d been his responsibility. He’d trained her as best he could, moulded her and fell in love with her. He wasn’t supposed to care, only to watch, train, guide and report. She’d been a rebellious handful from the start. Older then most potentials were, before being assigned a watcher.
They’d gotten off to a rocky start and their early relationship had taken some of the shine off being assigned the slayer. But it was her individuality that had made her one of the best slayers the Council had ever had. He’d begun to look on her as his daughter. Now, he felt the failure of a father, to protect his child. He felt the pain of a father whose daughter had lost trust in his judgment.
He’d errored badly, suggesting to Buffy, that she allow Dawn to be sacrificed for the greater good. Even though the girl was in effect, a cuckoo, planted into their lives by the Order of the Dragon monks, she’d been made with the blood and essence of the cuckolded Buffy. Buffy had come to love and cherish her supplanted ‘sister’ as perhaps, only an ‘only’ child could. His suggestion that she sacrifice Dawn for the greater good, had sent her straight to the obsessed, chipped vampire, who had been only too happy to take on the role of protector.
His slayer, his ‘daughter’, had gone to her death with the knowledge of yet another father’s betrayal, in her mind. This was an error far worse than his complicity in the Council’s barbaric Cruciamentum. He felt the weight of it add to the heavy burden of his grief. It made his days in Sunnydale an onerous task that he was finding harder and harder to bear.
He thought it time that he returned to the Mother country, to England. Perhaps there, he could learn to live with his loss. He knew that Dawn needed help but he simply did not have it in him to provide that care. He knew none of this was her fault. Still, he felt others would be better suited to seeing to her future needs. He knew that she sensed his disquiet around her and she sort her comfort with the other children, not him. Children? He sighed at the thought. None of them were children any longer. They had met and defeated so many demons even before their battle with the hell-god, Glory. Now, they had seen their friend make the ultimate sacrifice. No, they were no longer children at all.
The kettle whistled as a knock sounded at the front door. Giles turned the gas off and went to answer the door. Standing there, looking lost, alone, red eyed and on the verge of more tears, was Dawn. They stood looking at each other for a moment before the girl launched herself at Giles and the threatened tears spilled down her face as the youngster sobbed into the chest of the man holding her.
Giles, stood there, stiff backed for a moment before he put his arms around the distraught girl. He silently held her, letting her get through her emotional outpouring. He lifted one hand and gently stroked it down the long hair, hanging down her back. As he felt the girl begin to regain some control of herself, he leant back to look at her.
“Dawn, come in. Come into the kitchen. I was just making a cup of tea for myself if you’d like to join me? Perhaps a cold drink if you would prefer.”
The girl lifted a tear stained face to him, hiccuped her last sob, and nodded her head. She stepped back from him and turned toward the kitchen. Giles closed the front door and followed her. He drew his hanky from his pants pocket and passed it to her.
“Now, would you like a cup of tea or do you want something from the fridge, Dawn?”
The girl sniffed and blew her nose. She scrubbed the hanky across her face and said in a muffled voice, “I’m sorry, Giles, I know it’s my fault that, that … Buffy is … .”
“Oh my dear child. Of course it’s not your fault. How can you think that?” He moved to take her back into his arms as the tears began again. He held the sobbing child, her head nestled into his shoulder, his hand stroking her back as he murmured soft words of comfort to her. Slowly the crying eased and he felt Dawn pulling back. He dropped his arms from around her and reached to hold her chin in his hand.
“Look at me Dawn. Please, look here. What happened is not your fault. The only one to blame for any of this is Glory. She brought the fight and Buffy, we all, did what we had to, for the safety of our world. Buffy would be very disappointed if she knew you were blaming yourself.”
“You blame me.” It was a tiny whisper and he almost missed it.
“Oh my dear, dear child. No. No. If anyone of us were to blame, it would be me. It’s my job, as watcher, to find the answers, to make sure the slayer has the weapons and the training she needs to do her job. I, I did my best. Truly, I did. It … it just wasn’t enough. I love… loved your sister like she is … was, my own daughter. I’m very sorry if, in my grief, I’ve let you think that, if there was any thought, on my part, that… No Dawn. No. I don’t blame anyone, but the beast responsible, Glory and her minions.”
He took the girl into his arms again and pressed his lips to her forehead. She once again buried her head into his shoulder and he kissed the top of her head. “Oh, Dawn, dear girl. You too are like my own child. I care for you very much.” As he whispered this, Giles realised it was true. Dawn was all that was left to him of his slayer and he cared for her, for herself. He’d been holding himself away from her, not because he blamed her, but because he blamed himself. And simply because it all hurt too much. He’d lost a part of himself, that he would forever miss and the pain of it made it too hard for him to help someone else.
He held the girl until he felt her shaking ease, felt her begin to pull away. He released her from his arms and stepped back to allow her to gather herself together, dry her tears and attend to her running nose. He pulled the stool from under the counter and waved his hand in its direction. She sat on the stool, still scrubbing her face with his handkerchief.
“Now, how about that cup of tea?”
“Could I just have a glass of water or juice or something?”
“Of course.” He smiled and turned to get a glass from the cupboard. He set it down on the counter and moved to the refrigerator and brought out a tall bottle of juice, setting it beside the glass. Unscrewing the top, he looked at Dawn. She had herself under control now and he could feel that she had something else on her mind. He filled the glass and passed it to her.
“Thank you,” she whispered as she took the proffered glass and raised it to her lips. She took a small sip and set the glass on the counter in front of her.
“Dawn, you came to ask me something, didn’t you?”
“How, how did you know?”
Giles just smiled at her and let her take her time.
“It’s Spike. Please Giles, he’s my friend and I know you don’t really like him but he helped me. He helped all of us a lot.”
“Of course Dawn. He was a big help with Glory. What he did was, well frankly, his behavior throughout this business has been extraordinary, for a vampire. I’m not sure I understand it at all. Or him for that matter. Tell me, what’s worrying you.”
“He’s sick, Giles. He’s hardly been eating since, since …that day. He’s not healing and he’s so thin and this morning I, I couldn’t wake him up. Please, we have to help him.”
“Dawn, I’m not going to ask what you are doing at Spike’s crypt at this time of the day and a school day at that. We will discuss that later, though.” He looked at her to see that she understood what he was saying. She nodded. “However, I can see that you are upset and worried about this. I will visit Spike and see for myself what is going on.”
“Please, Giles, I want to go with you. He means a lot to me and I can’t, I can’t lose someone else.” The tears began to slide down her face. Giles patted her arm awkwardly. He really was not the one to deal with crying children. He’d no experience at all.
“Come now. We’ll both go and see to him. I’m sure he’s just been fighting and simply needs to feed to heal. We’ll go in my car and I’ll stop by the butchers on the way and buy some blood.”
“Thank you, Giles.” The girl whispered.
Giles pushed open the door to Spike’s crypt. The interior was quite dark, despite the fact that it was mid afternoon and quite bright outside. There was no light at all inside. He peered into the gloom toward the sitting room area, for want of a better description. Even the television, which appeared to be the vampire’s constant companion, was silent and dark.
“He was lying on the big sarcophagus, over there.” Dawn looked in the direction of a large stone edifice that Giles knew the Vampire used as a sort of bed. There was nothing on it. He put the bag of blood down near the door and ventured into the gloom. As he neared the vampire’s makeshift bed he could see a huddle of clothing or some such on the floor beside it. Dawn pushed past him and rushed to the pile.
“Oh, Spike. Spike? Please, is that you?” She dropped to her knees beside the mound and reached out a hand. Giles came up beside her and squatted down. He reached towards the highest point and took hold and pulled it towards him. The bundle flopped over, revealing that it was indeed the vampire. He looked more dead and corpse like than he ever had. His eyes remained closed, his body slack. He’d not reacted at all to their presence or to Giles’ hands on him. Dawn had been correct. The vampire appeared to be in a very bad way.
“Oh dear. You were right in coming to me, Dawn. He is obviously not well. I think we’ll have to get some help to move him. I don’t think he should stay here.”
“Thank you Giles. Thank you.”
“Yes well, he did prove a valuable ally and we don’t leave our allies when they need help. I’m going to the phone box to call Xander. I think we both had better go. No.” He raised his hand to forestall the objection he saw Dawn about to raise. “Dawn, it is best if we both go. Spike isn’t going anywhere and he’s managed alone until now. Come along.” He reached for the girls hand and together they stood and walked back out the crypt door.
Xander arrived not long after Giles had hung up the phone. He pulled a large flashlight from the glove box of his utility and together the three of them returned to Spike’s crypt. In the glaring light of the torch the vampire looked, small, shriveled and every bit the corpse he actually was.
“We’ll take him back to …”
“Not my place.” Xander interrupted. “No way I’m having the blood sucker as my house guest again!”
“I was going to say my place, before you interrupted. We’ll take him back to my flat. It looks and smells like he needs a good long soak in a bath before we can do anything else anyway.”
“Well, okay then.” They bent, one at each end and lifted Spike. “God, he’s so light. I can probably take him myself, Giles.” Xander’s voice was low and shocked.
“Good. I’ll get the blood I brought and the things Dawn put together.”
Giles thought Xander must be in shock to not call him one of his less than acceptable nick names. He didn’t blame him. The vampire was in a bad way and he wasn’t sure that a full recovery was an option. Not that he would say that out loud. He looked toward the hovering girl and recognised how very close she was to breaking down completely, at the possibility of losing another person from her life.
“I’ve put the blankets in the back of Xander’s car. I want to ride with Spike.”
“You may ride in the cabin with Xander, Dawn. You are most certainly not, riding in the back with Spike.”
Dawn opened her mouth to protest, saw the look in Giles eyes and nodded her head in acceptance. “Okay,” she whispered.
They carried the heavily wrapped vampire into Giles’ flat, straight into the bathroom and laid him on the floor. Xander opened the blankets. Spike was still out to it. He looked, if it were possible, even worse, in the sallow glow of the bathroom’s ceiling light.
“We’ll have to cut his clothes off. Xander, if you would please take off his boots, I’ll fetch a pair of scissors.”
“I’ll get them, Giles.” Dawn was hovering anxiously in the bathroom doorway.
“Oh, right. Thank you, Dawn. There should be a pair in the second draw by the sink.” Giles turned back to the body on the floor. Xander had one boot off and was working on the second. The vampire didn’t so much as twitch. Giles thanked the powers that be, for small mercies. They would need to reset the broken bones, after they cleaned the vampire up and he knew the procedure would entail a deal of pain.
Dawn returned with the scissors and held them out to Giles. She was staring at Spike with a look of horror and fear. “Is he, is he going to be okay?” She looked towards Giles and he could see the tears gathered in the corners of her eyes.
“He’s a vampire Dawn. They can take a great deal of punishment and recover completely from it. We just need to clean him up a bit and reset his broken bones. It’s going to be a bit messy It would be very helpful if you would please, get out the first aid box and sort out what we’ll need. Splints, bandages, a suture kit and perhaps some antiseptic lotion. You’ll find a tray in the cupboard over the refrigerator. Put them all on that for me, would you dear?”
“Then perhaps, you might put the kettle on and prepare the tea things. A nice cup of tea for all of us might be a good thing, I think.”
“I will. Thank you, Giles. Thank you for helping him.” The tears were spilling down her cheeks now. Giles reached for her hand and gave it a squeeze.
“Of course, Dawn. We’ll call you when we’re ready for the bandages.” The girl nodded and left the room.
Giles turned back to the body on the floor, crouched down and began to cut the leg of Spike’s jeans. “See if you can get his belt off Xander. Oh, dear.” As the leg of the jeans opened, Giles could see bone poking through the skin. “Oh, dear. I think this is going to be quite a job to realign. I never thought a vampire could get an infection like this.”
Xander looked down Spike’s leg and felt the blood drain from his face. His hand flew to his mouth as he started dry retching. “Oh, god.” The skin around the wound was black. “Oh god, it looks … rotten.”
“Yes. Xander if you are going to throw up, please do so in the loo. If not, then make yourself useful and run the bath. There’s a bottle of disinfectant in the cupboard on the wall. Tip the lot in I think.”
Xander jumped to his feet, anything to get away from the sight of Spike’s leg. He moved to the tub, put the plug in and turned the taps on. Giles went back to cutting the clothes from the vampire’s body. The body was covered in oozing scrapes and cuts, some quite deep. There was a large hole in the chest as though something had tried to burrow into it. There was also a deep laceration to his back.
“Of course the little sod doesn’t wear underwear.”
“Oh yeah. I could’ve told you that.” Giles looked up at Xander. Xander rolled his eyes. “From when I had to have him at my place. He took great delight in parading around with nothing on. The water is ready. I tipped the whole bottle of disinfectant in. …He smells like he’s decaying.”
“Yes. Distinctly unpleasant. If you take hold of his shoulders, I’ll get his legs. No need to worry about being gentle at this stage, I think.”
Together they picked up the vampire and dropped him into the tub. He sank under the water. Xander made to grab him, remembered vampires don’t breathe. It’d probably be easier, anyway, to get the blood and gore off Spike, if he was submerged.
“Sorry G-man but I draw the line at washing naked men or vampires or … I ain't touching any part of him with a sponge or anything else.”
“Xander, I know he’s a vampire but those wounds need to be cleaned. For a start, I don’t want the mess on any of my furniture. More importantly, he obviously hasn’t been feeding and he’s not healing at all, as far as I can see. Infection has already set in, and I must remember to write that up. We will also need to reset his broken legs.”
“Yeah, alright. But couldn’t I just go get some towels and help Dawn sort the first aid stuff? Geez, I know you have a huge first aid kit, but you’re going to have to restock the lot after we finish with him.”
“Yes, yes. Alright. Help Dawn sort the medical supplies. We’ll need splints for both legs, wrist, and several fingers by the look of it. Actually, I think I might debride some of that rotten flesh while he is in the tub. Would you fetch a scalpel for me please.”
Xander nodded and left the room. Giles turned to the figure in the tub and began the task of removing as much of the dirt, encrusted blood and mess, as he could. It really was an odious task. He didn’t blame Xander for his squeamishness.
The three sat at Giles’ table, drinking the tea Dawn had made. There was a plate of biscuits in the centre but none of them felt like eating anything. Cleaning the vampire’s wounds and setting his bones had been a long process and the three humans were exhausted. Dawn sat slumped in her chair, so close to sleep, Giles wondered how she didn’t slide to the floor.
“Xander. Perhaps you might take Dawn home. It’s quite late.”
“Uh, yeah. Sure thing G-man.” He pushed back from the table and stood up.
“I want to stay with Spike.”
“Dawn, you need to go home and go to bed. Willow and Tara have made tea for you and are expecting you. Spike will sleep for some time I think.”
“He needs to feed, Giles. To get better.”
“I will be here. When he wakes, I’ll make sure he has some blood. Now, go home with Xander. You need to eat and rest. I don’t think Spike would want you to make yourself ill, over him.”
The girl looked at her hands. “Alright,” she whispered. They both rose from the table and Giles moved to take the girl in his arms.
“He will be alright, Dawn. You made the right decision to ask for help and we will see him better. Vampires recover very well from almost any injury.”
The girl nodded and whispered another thank you.
“The Xander mobile awaits, my fair lady.” Xander opened the door and with a sweep of his hand, bowed low. Dawn smiled at him, felt Giles give her an extra squeeze.
“Let’s go then.” She stepped back from the man who was all the father she had ever really had. Giles followed her to the door and watched them walk across the courtyard. He waved to Dawn when she turned back to wave goodbye, then closed the door. He turned towards the sofa, where the vampire lay, a frown creasing his forehead. He hoped, for Dawn’s sake, the vampire did recover. He moved to the table to clear away the tea things.