Years later, when he attempted to tell the story to Xander, Giles could not find any explanation that seemed believable. But it had happened, and it had seemed natural at the time, that Spike should have been the one to carry Giles home after Buffy's funeral, and that Giles should have been the one to offer shelter to Spike. And that sometime during that grief-blurred summer, Giles found Spike in his bed, and forbore to stake him.
Xander shook his head. "But you hated each other."
"And we understood each other. We'd both lost our polestar. You and the others had lost a friend, but Spike and I had lost something more. Neither one of us was entirely sane at the time."
"Now you admit it! See?" Xander said, to the ceiling of Giles's little sitting room. "He admits he was insane."
Though that was not what Giles meant. The reason they were each damaged, the dependence on the fragile life of a single girl to give their lives meaning, that was the insanity. The sex had been sanity. It had been the survival instinct all creatures shared, even vampires, reasserting itself. It had felt good to be touched, good to touch in return, good to be given pleasure. Spike had been a skilled bedmate. Even now, Giles found himself stirring at the memory of Spike's hand on his hip, another man's body inside his, the weight on his back as they collapsed to the bed afterwards.
Xander got up and poured them each another splash of Scotch. A tot, to warm them on a cold winter night. "I was freaked the day I came over to help you pack, and realized he was asleep in your bed. Completely freaked."
Giles raised his glass to Xander. "You recovered."
"First adult moment in my life. No, I'm serious! I had my mouth open and I was about to ream you out, and then I thought, why? Why the hell should I give Giles shit for this? For anything? It was a sort of, oh, yeah, this is what they mean when they say life is short moment." Xander shook his head. "Though I sneer at your taste."
"He was a remarkably beautiful man," Giles said, wickedly. "Lovely cheekbones, muscled chest, perfect arse." He was rewarded by the sight of a deep blush spreading across Xander's face.
"Spare me the gay stuff, okay? I am so never going to get the appeal."
"As you wish," Giles murmured.
Xander set his glass down on the little table between them. "Do you miss him?"
"Miss him?" Giles tilted his head and had another sip of the single malt as he pondered. "No."
"He kinda made himself an asshole toward the end, I guess."
And Giles had participated in a plot to have him staked. But the disaffection had begun earlier. Xander's own report to Giles of Spike's attempted assault of Buffy had ensured the understanding between them had forever run dry. Giles, like Xander, had a solid sense of where his loyalties lay.
"Would you do it again, if you had it to do over?"
Giles had an answer ready for this question, which he'd contemplated many times in the years since. "Oh, yes, most definitely. Can't imagine how I'd have survived the summer without him. Completely disrupted my life and overturned it, which was what I needed. He emptied my closets and made me wear everything I'd shoved to the back. Reminded me who I'd been, once. Made me play my guitar. Made me remember I was a man, not only a Watcher, and could build a life for myself."
Xander leaned down and snagged his glass again. "Well, then. To the memory of Spike."
Giles lifted his glass, and drank.
For daiseechain, who wanted genfic with Giles, Spike, snark, and adventure.
gen, Giles, Spike,
Giles went to one knee and waited to catch his breath. He was fit, but this battle-- well, it was the way all battles were. Hours of boring waiting, minutes of frenzied action, followed by moments like this. If one was lucky. And he was. A scratch on his arm where claws had caught him, and nothing worse.
Spike was at his side, standing and staring out of the crypt they'd sheltered in. He had no breath to catch. His duster had a rip down the back, but he was also uninjured as yet.
"Think there's four more out there."
Giles grunted. A question occurred to him. "Where did you learn to use a sword like that?"
Spike answered absently, "Varsity fencing club. Gentleman's sport, you know."
His accent was not his usual. Giles quirked a smile, unseen behind Spike's back. He'd always suspected Spike of disguising his background.
He drawled, as casually as he could. "Fencing is hardly serious sword work."
"I trained with saber as well. And later I met a fellow in Japan."
"Wouldn't have guessed you were a hearty."
"Naw, wasn't. That was all later. The great poof had a thing about obscure martial arts for a few years. Ate his way through the dojos."
Spike had recalled himself, and his speech had moved northward and down a few educational notches. Giles smiled again, then pushed himself to his feet. He inspected his blade. Notched. Bugger.
"Here they come," Spike said.
"Keep me in one piece," said Giles, "and I won't tell Buffy you're an Oxford man."
Spike let his sword-tip hit the floor. "Oh, no, Watcher, you wouldn't."
"Don't try me."
"You don't fight fair."
"Only way to survive."
They grinned at each other, then turned to the door to wait.