Pairing: And here's where you all run screaming... G/S/X
This is a story about Giles, Spike, and Xander. The physical pairing is S/X, but past entanglements leave all three trapped in an emotional triangle and struggling to understand how they've come to this point and how to move on. I promise beaucoup de warnings should Giles decide to engage in some un-Watcherly behavior.

Rating:Adults Only, eventually.
Word Count: Each chapter is 350-400 words.
Disclaimer: Not mine
Summary: Post-NFA. Giles dumps a struggling Xander off at Spike's place. We move on from there.

Many thanks to [info]electricalgwen for the beta!





Watching


by
apreludetoanend





Part One

It’s Giles that drives Xander to Spike’s bed.

Literally drives him there in one of those ridiculous British cars where there’s barely enough room for his ass in the seat and his thoughts bounce like sonar off his too-close knees and it leaves him lightheaded and confused.

Or maybe that’s the alcohol.

The bed is ocupado until Giles initiates a complex negotiation that results in the swapping of Xander for Mindy or Molly or… Joan?

Spike hovers and spins along with the room, and when Xander closes his eyes, the blackness revolves around itself.

“Joanna’s pissed.”

Light shoves its way under Xander’s eyelids and he vaguely recalls that daybreak used to take longer than the three seconds it’s been since he closed his eyes.

Three seconds more and he realizes he has more pressing concerns. He’s going to piss and he’s going to throw up, and he’s going to do both right here in bed unless he gets to a bathroom in the next minute or so.

He opens his mouth and no sound comes out, but Spike says, “’Cross the hall.” Which he does, blindly. His needs are immediate and varied and physically impossible for a toilet and a mortal man, so he falls into the tub to retch and piss in his clothes.

When the last of the alcohol and bile hits the porcelain, he sits back and rests his head against the wall. He’s suddenly thankful he hasn’t eaten since… his last meal, whenever that was.

Spike enters eventually, but Xander doesn’t move. “Water?” he croaks.

Spike doesn’t answer, but there's a squeaky knob turning and then there’s a showerhead pelting water in Xander’s general direction. He doesn’t complain because it’s cool and wet and some of it lands in his mouth.

“You’re hurting yourself and the people around you,” Spike says robotically when the water shuts off.

Xander wonders when his life became an after school special.

“You got anything to say that you’re not getting paid for?”

“Yeah,” Spike says. “’M going out. Don’t be dead when I get back.”





Part Two

“’M not a babysitter, Giles,” Spike says, folding his chicken curry and naan into a kind of misguided wanderlust taco.

“He needs you.” Giles sets an example with his knife and fork.

“Needs something.”

That much is true.

“He won’t let me help him, Spike. That’s why I brought him to you.”

“Joanna?”

Giles rolls his eyes. “She’ll survive.”

“Yeah? Didn’t cover defense strategies in cemetery patrols yet.”

“What?” Giles freezes with his fork halfway to his mouth. “Why the bloody hell not?”

Spike’s eyes narrow. “Was all I could do to keep her clothes on! Silly cow wouldn’t let it go.”

“And you told her—”

“Yes, everyone thinks I’m gay. And no, you don’t pay me enough for that.”

Giles adds Joanna to his mental list of girls to be enrolled in the next Don’t Sleep Around seminar. “Sexuality and Self Esteem” or some such nonsense.

“Bein’ in love with Buffy doesn’t exactly help that image, you know.”

“People are still talking about that?”

Spike snorts. “’Course. Juicy bit of gossip like that, can’t expect it to die down in just a few years. These are the rumors that legends are made of.”

They eat in silence for a minute, and then Spike laughs. “Well, I could always tell them about—”

“No, Spike.”

Spike fixes his gaze in the plate in front of him. “Right. No, why would we ever… No.”

“Spike.”

“What do you want me to do with Harris?”

“William,” Giles says, and it’s like an apology wrapped in an appeasement wrapped in an old man who’s fucked it up yet again. It’s no wonder Xander won’t accept his help.

“Xander,” Spike says coldly. “What’s my assignment?”

Giles sighs. “Fix him.”

Spike laughs a hundred year old laugh and the way the sun glints and flashes off his eyes is disconcerting. “The way you fixed me?”

“No. This is… different.”

“How’s this different, Rupert?”

“I want him back when you’re done.”

Spike speaks slowly, and it’s low and dangerous and Giles hasn’t heard anything like it since Sunnydale. “How is this different?”

“I love him.”

Giles doesn’t look up when the chair scrapes backward or when the table jars against Spike’s hip. He doesn’t look up until he’s sure Spike’s gone, and even then, he only raises his head enough to rest his forehead in his hands.

“I love you, too,” he whispers.





Part Three

Harris is splayed out in the tub like a corpse, but he’s breathing, so Spike sits against the wall across from the toilet and watches.

Because that’s what a Watcher does.

Except he’s not a Watcher. Never will be, and he’s disgusted that he ever thought he might have a part to play in the fate and future of the world. That maybe he could be more than Spike, the walking freak show.

Step right up folks, and have a look at the incredible human vampire!

“That’s an oxymoron.”

You’re an oxymoron,” Spike says.

Xander chuckles and then groans. “Spike, an oxymoron is a—”

“Heroic kid who’s drunk himself so low he needs to be rescued.”

“I’m no hero,” Xander says, shifting in the tub. “And I’m not a kid.”

Kid’s right, of course, on both counts. Right now, he’s just a drunk ass in a bathtub. But ever since he lost that patch and the extra bit of weight, Spike can’t stop seeing him as the kid who tied him to a chair in the basement all those years ago.

Maybe it wouldn’t be that way if they spoke from time to time, but Giles is really the only one who talks to Spike. Andrew on occasion, Buffy and Dawn over the phone, and other than that, it’s just work. Just the slayers.

The phone rings.

Always the slayers.

“You gonna get that?”

“No,” Spike says, and the machine clicks on.

“Hey Will, it’s Joanna. Listen, I got rushed out in such a hurry last night that I’m afraid I didn’t have a chance to pack well, and I’m missing some things, my nightie and my favorite pair of panties. I thought I might come over and you could help me look? I’m in the dorm now, or I’ll be on front desk all afternoon. Call me!”

The machine beeps and clicks.

“I forgot that it’s ‘William’ now. Do you want me to…?”

“Nah.”

Can I?”

Goddamn hero’s still in there, somewhere, trying to get out. The last thing Spike needs is Harris trying to be nice, though. He just needs Harris to be clean and sober and gone.

“No,” he says, leaving Xander alone in the bathroom.





Part Four

Time slips by in lulls and spurts, and Xander’s not sure how much has passed when he finally finds the energy to stand. He adds the pounding of water on porcelain to the pounding in his head; they’re out of phase and it makes him dizzy.

Halfway through his shower, he manages to untangle himself from his clothes, and when he finally turns the water off, Spike’s there with a towel and a pair of sweatpants.

“What did you do to Rupert?”

And okay, if Spike wants to pretend the whole naked thing is completely normal, Xander can do that.

“What do you mean?” Xander asks, stepping out of the tub and leaning on the arm Spike’s stretched out to brace him.

“Says you won’t let him help you.”

“I don’t need help, I just need… time.”

“Time,” Spike says, sitting on the closed toilet seat and running the towel over Xander’s stomach. “Time to what? Drink yourself to death?”

Yes. “No.”

“Then what?”

Spike stands and pushes Xander’s hair out of his face with the towel, scrunching it over the curls on the back of his neck.

“I don’t know,” Xander says, curling his fingers around the towel when Spike puts it in his hands.

“Figure it out, Harris.”

Xander’s dressed and lying on the bed when he figures something out, anyway. He heads in the likely direction of the living room and finds Spike on the couch with a pillow and a blanket.

“This is where you’re sleeping?”

“That what you came out here to say?”

“No,” Xander says. “Why did Giles bring me here?”

“You were fucked up, Harris.”

“No, why did he bring me here?”

“I’ve got no fuckin’ clue,” Spike says.

“Huh,” Xander says, not sure whether he’s being perceptive or imaginative, “I didn’t know you two were close.”

Spike doesn’t move. “Reckon there’s a lot of things you don’t know.”

Probably true, but Xander can’t help feeling like Spike’s avoiding the question. Before he can press the issue, Spike says, “Time for all good little Watchers to be in bed.”

“I’m not a Watcher,” Xander says.

“Then we have one thing in common.”





Part Five

Rupert pauses outside the door to his office.

Inside, there’s paperwork. Invoices, request forms, probably the latest field reports and definitely the two stacks of paper he’s been ignoring since yesterday morning.

The black file and the Watcher applications.

He’ll have to get to them sooner or later, but right now, getting to them is the problem.

His fingers hover over the doorknob.

Just inside the door is the first bit of floor to bear the weight of Xander’s bag on his return from Africa, and to the right, the couch that Giles led him to when he fell asleep in the warmth of their greeting embrace.

A few feet forward, in a patch of sunlight, there’s a stain. Spike’s blood, pooled on the floor because Rupert wasn’t fast enough to catch him as he fell, wasn’t astute enough to recognize his humanity.

The file cabinet in the corner. Where Xander had dropped the first black file, after the Tube bombings in 2005. The first slayer killed outside the line of duty. Xander had grabbed his hand and squeezed.

An empty spot in front of the desk. There used to be chairs. Now, there’s just space because he can’t look at the upholstery and wood without seeing the hurt in Spike’s eyes. In Xander’s. Because they had sat in those chairs, a year apart, and asked to be Watchers.

And Rupert had said no.

Stammered and shuffled papers and lied to himself. Lied to them. Lied to Peter in Hong Kong, who’s so desperate for backup that he’s been checking in twice a week for the past two years to see if there’s another Watcher available to help him oversee his two hundred girls.

He pulls his hand away from the doorknob. He’ll get to his paperwork tomorrow.

Joanna’s at the front desk and he turns, but he doesn’t have the right to criticize anyone for pursuing Spike.

“Andrew?” he asks, and she nods, which probably means Yes, Mr. Giles, Mr. Wells is in his office.

He speaks from the doorway. “Andrew, I’d appreciate it if you’d call Spike tomorrow, tell him I’ll need him to fax an update on… the situation.”

“Is that a code name? Because I’m in charge of maintaining the code names and that one’s not on my list.”

Rupert sighs. “No, Andrew, it’s not a code. Just call him, please.”




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