An Act Of Thanks
written by Darth Nonie

Rating: FRM
Spoilers: Up through "Intervention," in which Glory had some questions for Spike.
Summary: Spike is all battered and bruised after his run in with Glory, Giles goes to say thank you.
Feedback Author: Darth Nonie
Author's Website: Nonie's Fic

Crypts. Even after all this time, all this practice, they still made his spine tighten. The dark, the smell of must and dust and old dry bones, the loom of hidden undeath waiting to spring. Always the same, here as in London, and yet always different. God knows he should be used to this one, and it wasn't as if other vampires would be hanging out in Spike's lair. But his spine tightened, still.

Eyes still adjusting to the dim light, Giles could make out Spike's body draped along the sarcophagus lid like a weary Crusader who'd ditched his armor for leather and black jeans.

Spike didn't even open his eyes. "'Lo, Rupert." His voice was a raw whisper.

"Hello, Spike."

The vampire hadn't even changed his clothes, and the burns and tatters made Giles want to look away.

"Got any pig's blood, mate? I seem to be out."

"Sorry," said Giles. "I--I didn't think."

As his eyes adjusted, he could see Spike's face. Bruised, shapeless, cut; eyes swollen shut, lips split and puffy, nose broken in at least two places. God, it hurt to see, and he remembered those old brawling days when he and Ethan would take on a whole pub for the sheer bloody fun of it, staggering home wearing their bruises like a football trophy.

Ethan--God, Ethan would look like this next morning, sprawled in their shared nest of unwashed blankets like a piece of butcher's meat, but smiling, smiling. Wouldn't move, wouldn't even open his eyes until Ripper brewed up tea thicker than Thames mud and strong enough to melt stone.

Ripper, seemed like he was always angry and a pub brawl gave him something he could hit and take his punishment besides. But Ethan, he'd goad men into fighting for the wicked joy of watching Ripper tear into them, and then he'd flaunt his bruises the next day like the latest thing in glam. A decadent son of Chaos indeed, and Ripper couldn't imagine how he'd ever missed it.

Spike's scratchy drawl broke his revery. "Fag, then?"

The sudden, horrifying memory of Xander's description of the firm, compact body before him made Giles blush. Sick and entirely inappropriate, but now he couldn't get it out of his head.

Helplessly, he heard himself stammer as he pushed his glasses up. "I--I beg your pardon?

"Have you got a fag, then?" Spike repeated tiredly. "Lost me smokes. I don't know why I pay for the buggers."

"Oh." Still half Ripper, Giles reached for a pocket before he remembered how long ago he'd given them up. "Ah, no. I'm sorry."

"Story of me life."

His face looked as lifeless as his voice, bruises swollen like the bloat of decay, with blood and dust caught in the dry grass of his hair.

"--Spike," Giles said with difficulty.

"Yeah?" Incurious.

"Buffy told me--what you did."v "Silly bint never shuts up, does she." But the faintest edge of a smile curved at the edge of his ruined mouth, and to his horror Giles found himself wanting to earn that smile for himself as well.

Well. None of his business.

"Spike, she said you'd--you'd let Glory take you apart, would have let her kill you, just to protect her and Dawn."

"Niblet's got class," Spike muttered with a faint shadow of pride. "Decent kid, not like the rest of you poncy buggers. Likes me, she does."

"She does," Giles agreed. "Look here, Spike, I just wanted to say--thank you. For all of us."

Spike forced one eyelid up enough to look at him. "That must have hurt. And you a bloody Watcher too."

"Well." Giles was embarrassed. "You earned it."

"Yeh," Spike said with satisfaction. "Yeh, I bleedin' well did."

"Ah...yes," Giles said again.

"Hey, mate? About that pig's blood--" Spike tried to sit up, but his arms wouldn't hold him, and Giles barely caught him before the vampire could tumble face-first to the stones.

Dead weight. Spike was colder than he'd ever been, slumping against Giles with all the wet-concrete gracelessness and heft of Ethan that time they'd summoned a winter spirit and the little bastard fainted on him.

Fag, then? God forgive him, yes, though he'd tried to leave all that behind him. It wasn't men's bodies he'd missed, though, so much as the taunting wickedness of Ethan's smile, elusive soul always slipping out of Ripper's grasp. A flit, Ethan had always been, but with the resilient strength and bruised beauty of something that knew how to yield just enough to free itself again.

Spike's body, as Giles lowered it back into place, felt so painfully familiar in his arms that without meaning it he found the disordered hair shifting under the brush of his lips.

"Fancy me then, do you?" But Spike's voice was a ghost of its taunting self, and Giles knew the vampire thought it had been pure chance.

"Not bloody likely," Ripper said mendaciously.

Spike tried for one of his elaborate sighs, but broke off halfway through to cough helplessly, his body curling in around his broken ribs. Despite himself, Giles was horrified.

"Look, mate," the thread of voice whispered. "You're done here, innit? I'm not a bleedin' rarey show. You want to Watch something, go find a telly."

"Ah.... Yes," said Giles. "I--I really must go." Now, before he did anything really stupid. Now. Go.

"Ta," said Spike.

Giles pulled his tweed jacket tighter and tried to keep from bolting as he headed for the door of the crypt. Sunlight, he needed sunlight and normalcy and Buffy's silly chatter to bring him back. Buffy and Dawn, unharmed because Spike, of all people, found it worth facing Glory and his own death to keep them that way.

He couldn't do it. He couldn't walk away like this. Gently, he shut the door again and turned back towards where the vampire lay.

Another racking cough, and Spike really must have thought that Giles had gone, because he'd stopped playing stoic and the Watcher could hear him trying not to keen with the pain of it.

"Oh, bloody hell!" Giles said, and gave in.

"--Rupert?" Spike tried to laugh, but before he could cough again, Giles had hoist himself up onto the sarcophagus and lifted that ridiculous bleached head into his lap.

He was shaking so hard he dropped his penknife twice before he got it open.

Some rules--some rules a Watcher never broke, but with the chip-- God knows he'd bled himself more than once in all his spells and summonings, and the spill of blood as he made a cut in his wrist ran over pale scars like the touch of Ethan's tongue.

Gently, he let the first drops fall on the pain-clenched mouth below.

And then those battered fingers closed over his own.

Thanks, this was only thanks, Giles reminded himself. Thanks and compassion for a wounded, unlikely watchdog. But Spike's fingers twined with his like a caress, and when those shadowsoft lips sealed on his wrist he felt his hair stand on end.

And when Spike's face snarled and hardened against him, Giles hardened too. He heard himself moan and stopped trying not to pull Spike against him and hold him tight.

They writhed together on the cold stone, Spike's thigh finding its way between his own and pressing, rubbing. Lonely and long denied, Giles could not pretend he didn't want this, and his other hand clawed down Spike's back and the sweet curve of his arse.

Spike rolled him over and drilled his tongue into the wound, lapping and playing with the slit as he drank. Like a spell, the heat between them mounted with Giles' every hard-caught breath until he thought he'd die of it. Higher and harder and too much to bear--

Growling, Spike lost control and bit down, and the sudden shock of pain flung them both over the edge. Flying, falling. Laughing.

Ripper sprawled bonelessly on the slab as his breath slowed, unable to hide his grin.

Spike, his face half-healed, looked smug as he combed his bleached hair back into place with his fingers.

"Oh, Spike," Giles said almost fondly. "Watchers, robots, Harmony--you'd do it with anything, wouldn't you."

"'Ere, watch it!" And the mock offense was as cheerful as ever. "I've got me standards, I do."

"And they are?"

"No pigs, no exhaust pipes, and nothing that's been dead over a fortnight. Well...unless it's still bloody moving."

Giles cuffed him on the shoulder and sat up, only to be pinned flat again.

Spike's face loomed ominously, inches from his own. "'Ere, you stingy bastard, where do you think yer going?"


Spike shook his head in disgust. "No smokes, a short 'alf pint of blood, and now you're trying to take me plate away before I've had me afters. Wanker." And his hands were busy at Giles' belt.

Giles sputtered wordlessly, and Spike snaked down his body to open his trouser buttons and lick him clean.

And lingered there.

Ripper fisted his hand in the bleached hair. "Think you're the one in charge here, do you?"

Spike grinned triumphantly. "Oh, I wouldn't exactly say that, mate. But, you know, this chip? Next time you come down here, bring some bloody lube."