Really hoping that shapinglight will like it.
Title: Divided Loyalty
Summary: At the fifth anniversary of the fall of Sunnydale, the council sends the one man they hope to settle their problems with the Slayers, Rupert Giles.
Characters: Buffy/Spike, Giles
It was the anniversary of the event, the main one, that had led them here; the destruction of Sunnydale. Giles noticed Buffy in the cluster of Slayers, all of whom seemed to try and be near her, to get a chance to talk to her, touch her. It was obvious that Buffy was uncomfortable under the barrage, but Giles had a hard time getting through the crowd to save her from it; anything that could give them a moment together. Buffy and he crossed eyes once, and it seemed she looked away. He hoped that wasn't true.
Suddenly the wall of slayers separated and a figure came through.
"Spike!" Giles pretty much hissed the name.
The slayers around Buffy started whispering and staring at him, but all of them stepped out of the way of the blond vampire, desperate to get a look at him. Some were distrustful, others fascinated, but all of them were interested. Spike didn’t seem to care what they thought, his heavy boots leaving a trace of mud on the hall floor, while his coat carried stains of an better left unidentified origin. Spike took Buffy's hand and soon they were gone from the crowd, worse than that, away from him.
It took Giles two hours before he found her again. They were sitting in one of the side rooms, surrounded by weapons. Spike was working on an axe, while Buffy was fiddling with a stake, cutting off slices of the wood and sharpening it. Spike said something that Giles couldn’t quite catch, he could see Buffy smile at it and heard her say something back in a scathing tone. He didn’t understand the words, but Spike clearly didn’t take them too seriously from the leer on his lips.
Giles opened the door and waited for Buffy to notice him. She did. He wished she didn't look away from him. Spike stayed in place, put his feet on the chair in front of him and made himself comfortable. Buffy glared at him, touched his hand and looked at the door.
Spike groaned, got up and kicked the chair to the wall before grabbing a crossbow off the floor, sticking it under his coat and leaving.
"Hurt her and I'll forget I'm on a diet." he hissed to Giles, as if he of all people had any right to do so.
"I'd like to see you try." was all Giles could answer, before he was interrupted by a cough coming from the room.
"If you boys are finished posturing, I think I need to talk to Giles now?"
Spike took one last look at Buffy as she rolled her eyes, before he finally left, and Giles wished he hadn't. Because without Spike in the room, he actually needed to look Buffy in the eye and that frightened him more than any two bit vampire who thought he belonged here.
And they both stood on opposing sides of the room for a second as Buffy kept looking at the stake in her hand. She was still holding the knife and cut off another curl of the wood.
Giles took off his glasses, desperate to have something in his hands.
“It’s been a while.”
Giles couldn’t do no other than agree. Five years since Sunnydale fell, four years since Spike had come back, like a cockroach crawling out from under a shoe after you thought he’d finally kicked the bucket. Three and a half since he’d last seen her.
There hadn’t even been a fight, they’d occasionally talked on the phone, mostly business.
But he hadn’t been there when she opened her martial arts school in Florida and he’d sent Dawn in his stead when they’d needed someone to translate certain demonical messages to stop the last big apocalypse.
He’d even excused it to himself that Dawn had wanted to go see her sister. Never mind that she already went over at least every two weekends and every single school vacation. But it had been easier than going there and finding Spike making himself at home in Buffy’s space.
The other slayers saw him as Buffy’s pet vampire; he was so much a regular part of her life, that there weren’t even any rumors or talk left about Buffy’s proclivity for the undead. Nobody batted an eye whenever he showed up a few feet after her, ready to back her up. It sickened Giles to the core and he simply couldn’t bring himself to go to a place where a vampire like that fitted in more easily than he did.
Buffy was still standing in the same place, her feet seemed to restlessly move a few inches up and down while she fiddled with her stake. If she kept at it, it was likely to end up a few inches shorter.
If only she’d attack him, accuse him, let herself get angry with him - anything other than standing there he’d know what to do - but no she didn’t. She expected him to make the first move and for now, that was beyond him.
“What do you want Giles?” She crossed her arms.
It was her only question, no rage, no fury, no childish displays. In every way the woman he’d hoped her to become. It broke his heart to hear the weariness in her voice.
“I just wanted to talk, the council…”
“The council sent an emissary a month ago Giles. That Pryce guy. I told him then, and I tell you now, I’m not handing a single Slayer over to them if the girls don’t get paid for their work.”
And of course she wouldn’t, and she was right. The only reason the council was holding out was because somehow the old timers had managed to retain enough power to keep coming up with excuses why the money was suddenly unreachable. Why there was enough money to pay the bureaucracy, but not the actual slayers doing the work.
Giles had tried to get them to see sense, but tradition seemed to be cast in steel, no matter how much he tried to tell them that they were starting to make themselves irrelevant.
“Buffy you can’t abandon the world. I know you don’t like the council, but…” Buffy interrupted him before he could continue.
“We’re not abandoning anyone Giles. The Slayers are still out there, still slaying, still protecting the innocent, we don’t need Watchers to do that. You taught me that.”
And that stole his last true argument away from him. “But what about the knowledge, the books? Everything the council has worked for for centuries.”
Buffy smiled, her grin turned evil.
“Ever heard of a little thing called the internet? Willow and Xander have a group of people working day and night getting the slayers all the information they need.”
She dropped the stake she was working on to a table next to her.
“We don’t need you.”
It was like she’d forced the stake through his heart, making him understand that it wasn’t just the council she was talking about.
“We’ve done without you for years. Tell the council Giles; tell them they can stuff their orders, and their assignments, until the day we get contracts and payments and … and a union. We’ve got a union now Giles and it says we don’t move a step on the council’s orders, until we get what we’re owed.”
“Buffy please. We” I…need you, “just want to help you.”
“Then help us! Instead of standing in our way. We’re not all children Giles, some of us have families, loved ones. We risk our lives on a daily basis, we do, not you guys who hide behind your walls. Why should we listen to a bunch of bureaucrats who don’t know one thing about life on the frontlines, if they don’t give us anything in return ?”
She turned on her heels, grabbed her purse and left the room. It would have been easier for him if she’d just stomped out.
Giles sat down in the chair Spike had vacated earlier, his hands in his lap and wondered where he’d gone this wrong. Why was he here, siding with the council, being their representative, when all he wanted to do was tell her how proud he was of her? Why couldn’t he just go up to her and tell her she was right? That she should stick to her guns, that he’d help her? And why couldn’t she just ask him for his help.
It was all Spike’s fault.
He didn’t even know how the vampire had managed to worm his way back into her good graces. Just that one day, they’d been a family, and the next Spike had been back. He’d tried. God knows he’d tried, he’d told her not to trust the vampire. Spike had hurt her before, he was only using her. But whenever he tried to make her see the truth, she’d smile and ignore every word he said. And then every time he saw her, Spike was there, in the background. Probably keeping an eye on Buffy, making sure she stayed under his control.
Oh he wasn’t always in the room, but he was in the house, in the city. Always around, and no matter what he said, Buffy would still trust him, before anything else. Before her friends, before him.
He couldn’t take it; he’d refused to keep visiting her house, especially after he heard Spike call it home. He’d thought she’d come to him. She hadn’t. He invited her for Christmas, just her and the others. She asked him about Spike, he’d gone silent, hoping to make it clear he wouldn’t invite a vampire in his home. She couldn’t expect him to do that, not after Jenny.
She didn’t come, he heard later from Xander that she’d spent Christmas in some cabin in the hills; just her, Spike and Dawn. It broke his heart.
She was busy she’d said, there were demons in those woods that she had to take care of, she’d said. But he knew, he knew that she wouldn’t come if Spike wasn’t invited. The year after she asked him over. He’d said no, said he was busy, he’d sent Andrew.
The door slammed open, Giles looked up to see Spike standing in the door.
“What did you do to her? What the bloody hell did you tell her?”
The door slammed open, Giles looked up to see Spike standing in the doorway, minus coat and nails halfway done.
“I didn’t… I just told her the council…”
“To hell with the bloody council, I’m talking about you, about you and her. She misses you, don’t you get that? You’re tearing her apart.”
Spike kicked his chair to the wall and towered over him.
“She’s beating a punching bag to pulp right now. What do you think?”
And wishing it was him, no doubt. Spike was growling, looming over him. Giles wished he could get close enough to the stake Buffy had dropped. She wouldn’t mind if it were self defense, would she?
“Spike back off!”
Both males stared at Buffy standing at the open door.
“What is it with men thinking I need some big white knight stomping off in my defense? I’m not a little maiden needing protection Spike. I haven’t been that girl for a long time now.”
Giles gulped for air, realizing the words were meant for him as much as they were for Spike.
Spike stepped back, leaving Giles sitting there on the chair, his back to the wall. He sighed in relief. It didn’t last long.
In fact, it lasted just long enough for Buffy to step up to him, lift him up and push him to the wall, the chair forced uncomfortably between him and the dry plaster.
"Is this what you want Giles? For me to be angry, to throw you around because you abandoned me; because you couldn't be there to share my new life with me? Do you want me to hit you, to think that I could solve every problem in my life by beating it down? I've learned better than that. You taught me better than that."
His feet hit the ground hard and she looked at him.
"I don't need Spike Giles, but I want him. I want him because he is there for me, not just when I need him, but when I think I don't. I want him because I love him. Because he matters to me. And if you don't get that...then, if you don't get that, I don't know what I could possibly say to make you change your mind."
Giles wished she could see Spike smirking behind her. Don’t give him the satisfaction. Don’t let him win.
"He's using you Buffy. He's trying to keep you away from your friends?"
It was as if he’d said the best joke ever.
"Keep me away from my friends? Giles, do you think that little of me, that I'd let him do that, even if he wanted to?"
“Who says I don’t want to.”
The vampire spoke up. See, he even agrees with me, Giles thought.
Buffy ignored it of course.
“We all spend lots of time together - it's you who stayed away. Spike never once asked me not to see you. He never said you weren't welcome here, or in our home. You did that."
Her hair fell in her face and Giles wanted to push it out of the way, instead he took off his glasses.
"As for the others? I'm not saying they're best friends, but Spike and Xander work together, they patrol together, and they play pool together. They’ve even got a regular soccer evening planned at least once a month.”
Giles pulled out his handkerchief, desperate to get a stain off of his glasses, while keeping an eye on Spike whose face stood unreadable.
“Spike was the one who could tell me just what book Willow wanted for her Christmas, sorry hannukah gift, he's the one who made sure I didn't forget the date for Dawn's birthday. He called Faith to make sure she was there for thanksgiving, because he knew I'd forgotten. God if anything, I'm the one keeping him away from his friends."
"You know, you do have a point there."
"Shut up Spike, I'm talking to Giles here."
Spike lifted his hands and mercifully shut up.
“I’m just saying…” Buffy glared at him and he stopped talking.
“I’m not expecting you to like him Giles, or to even accept how much I want him here.”
She turned away from him, facing Spike, in his shadow.
“So what will you tell the council?”
“You’re really serious about that union?”
“I am. We are. It’s like Xander says, we’re workers, we produce a product, so we should have rights and stand up for them. If you think you can do without us, then try.”
“There are people backing the council in Britain. Money people. If you can prove you’re not just a bunch of kids asking for pocket money, I might convince them to give the money directly to you instead of to the council.”
And sure they’d miss some of the tomes and books, but there were other ways of getting those. Better ways.
“You’d help us?”
She gave him a smile, a real smile, her eyes twinkling. He wasn’t sure if it was because she was happy or because she was trying to hold back a tear.
He fought back a grin of his own.
“Yes. If you don’t mind a former watcher in your … council of Slayers.”
And all at once she fell in his arms and hugged him and he was gasping for air.
“I’ll help you.”
“But you’re not getting the best chair for Thanksgiving.”
Giles glared at him, knowing he would.