Shades of Grey 2: The Favour
Sequel to Shades of Grey 1: The Deal; part of The Shades of Grey Series
Summary: Giles owes Spike a favour. It is a debt he may live to regret.
Author Notes: Thanks to Matt and Emma for proof reading. I am a feedback junkie. Please support my habit.
Story Notes: Set post "The Gift". Season six never happened and Buffy stayed dead. Part 2 of 6
Disclaimer: I don't own any of them. Joss Whedon and co do.
When the phone rang in the middle of the afternoon Giles didn't give it much of a thought other than the annoying possibility that it was probably telesales people again, trying to sell him things he didn't want.
"Afternoon, Giles," replied an all too familiar London drawl. "Got any plans for tonight?"
"Spike?" It had been six months since he had last heard from the vampire, and Giles realised with worrying surprise that he had not yet revoked the invite from his last visit. He really had to get around to doing that sometime. Having got over the initial reaction, he added, "Actually I do have plans."
That was a lie. Giles had no plans for this evening, or indeed any evening this week. As usual he was intending to sit at home, alone, and read, or perhaps watch television. But there was no reason to tell Spike that.
"Cancel them. Whatever you were doing, I got a better idea." It was neither an order nor a threat, but Giles didn't like the assumption that he would comply on Spike's say-so.
"Why would I want to cancel anything? I have things to do. I have a life, you know." Giles wasn't sure which of them he was really trying to convince.
On the end of the line, Spike sighed. "I was hoping I wouldn't have to remind you." He paused for a moment.
"You owe me a favour, Giles. And tonight I'm calling it in."
Giles walked into the all night coffee bar at just after ten o'clock and scanned the room. Spike was already there, sitting at a table in the far corner. He glanced up and acknowledged Giles' entrance, then went back to contemplating his coffee while Giles went to the counter.
As he walked over to the table, tray of tea in hand, Giles noted that Spike was fiddling nervously with a napkin, fidgeting, and constantly looking around the room and through the window to the street outside. Giles knew he was always fairly tense and alert, but not usually to this level. He hadn't even heard what the vampire wanted, and already Giles was sure he wasn't going to like it.
"Evening," Giles greeted as he sat down.
Spike grunted something that might have been a greeting. "You're late," he said, accusingly.
"And you're disturbing my plans, so let's get on with this."
"What? I interrupted your heavy-duty tea drinking and forced you to come here and drink someone else's tea? You need to get out more." The comeback certainly wasn't up to his usual standard, and Giles noted again that he seemed distracted.
"What do you want, Spike?"
Spike sat back and looked him over. "You ever been to Nottingham?"
"A couple of times. Not recently."
"I want to go there tonight. I want you to come with me."
"I assume there's a reason for this?"
Spike started fiddling with the napkin again, tearing tiny strips off it one by one.
"The entire city is built on a sandstone bedrock. There's a whole system of man-made caves running under most of the city centre. The main ones are open to the public, all touristy. But there's more under the north side of town that the tourists never see, and most people have forgotten about. That's where most of the demons in Nottingham live, including a Rasjahn demon who is the current owner of a crystal that I want. I was there last night, scoping out his lair. Thing is, he's protecting his stuff with a bunch of magical wards. I know there's at least a ward against vampires, and I think maybe a couple of others. That's why I want you. You can get the wards down, right? Negate the magic for long enough to get the stuff?"
"You want me to help you steal a crystal from another demon?" Giles was a little incredulous at the nerve.
"Well, yeah." Spike sounded slightly put out at Giles' reaction. "Look, it's a Rasjahn demon. Do you know what they do? They eviscerate humans and leave 'em hanging up to bleed slowly to death before they eat them. We'll be doing the bloody city a favour by getting rid of this thing."
Giles surreptitiously glanced around to make sure nobody could overhear their conversation. Luckily, at this time of night the coffee bar was sparsely populated, and the tables immediately around them were empty. Satisfied they were not about to scare the general public, Giles turned his attention back to the demon sat opposite him.
"A moment ago we were just stealing a crystal. Now we're hunting a Rasjahn. What exactly is it that you want, Spike? Why is one crystal important enough to make you even attempt to attack such a creature in its own lair when you know it has magical protection?"
Spike looked down at the small pile of shredded tissue on the table in front of him, and then swept the confetti into an ashtray. He leaned across to the next table, snagged another napkin and started the process again.
"I have to get the crystal for someone else. Part of a deal I owe him." He looked up and must have seen the look of surprise on Giles' face. "What? You really thought you were the only one I dealt with? I bring you the stuff that I think you'll want, I take other stuff to people with... other interests. This demon I know is doing something for me, and he needs the crystal before he'll pay up. Are you in or not?"
Giles wasn't certain he wanted in on this at all. But Spike had been right all those months ago when they had made the deal. Giles knew that as long as he owed the vampire, he would honour the favour. But still.
"Rasjahn demons have a rather vicious reputation. Do you really think we could take it on?"
Spike chuckled. "What's up? Getting a bit past it? Think the action'll be too much for you?"
"Past it? I'll have you know I staked two vampires just last week." Giles was posturing, covering for the fact that yet again Spike had managed to hit on exactly what he was worried about.
"If you want to have a pissing contest about it, I killed three Fyarl demons and a werewolf just last night. I win."
"Well in that case you should have no difficulty with a single Rasjhan demon. So I'll be going." Giles stood up, wishing that he wasn't so rattled. Wishing that Spike didn't know exactly which buttons to press to get to him every time.
"Giles." Spike was looking at him with an intense, piercing gaze. "I need you. Are you in?"
Giles sighed, and sat back down. "In theory I can negate magical wards, but a genuine sorcerer would do it far more quickly and easily."
"Yeah, but right now I don't happen to know any genuine sorcerers who owe me a favour."
Giles slowly nodded. "I'm in."
Spike looked surprised for a second, as if he hadn't actually expected Giles to agree to it. Then he stood up. "Let's go then."
"Yeah. No time like the present. And it's going to take a few hours to drive there."
"But I need some supplies. I can't do the magic you're asking for without a few components." Giles wasn't sure he was prepared to do this at any time, let alone right that night.
"Oh. Well, that's okay. We'll break into a magic shop on the way and nick what we need."
Giles smiled. Spike was back on form now.
"If you remember I specified nothing illegal."
Spike furrowed his brow a moment. "Okay. You stay in the car, I'll break into a magic shop and nick what we need."
"It doesn't work like that. Besides, you said yourself its going to take a few hours to drive, and leaving a couple of hours for the job itself, you're going to end up trying to get back in daylight if we leave now." Giles was trying to sound calm, organised, and not at all stalling for time.
Spike just shook his head, becoming more agitated. "No. I have to be in Paris by the end of the week to meet this demon or else the deal's off. If we don't do it tonight I might not make the deadline. So let's move."
Giles rather reluctantly followed him out to a battered looking car with the windows blacked out.
"We'll use my car, it's already got weapons in the back," Spike said. "Plus it's already set up to deal with any little sun tan problems if it does take until morning."
They drove in silence until Giles directed him to a magic supplies shop that he occasionally used on the outskirts of the city. Giles didn't want to break the first stipulation of his agreement, that led to the possibility of making even further concessions later, but he had decided that if Spike was going to break into the shop anyway he might as well go along, if only to make sure that he stole the right things. As Spike picked the lock on the back door he made a comment about Giles reliving his Ripper days, but Giles only hmphed a "Be quiet," and kept watch.
Once inside it didn't take long for Giles to grab what he needed, and when Spike wasn't watching he dropped enough money on the counter to cover the items and replace the back door lock, before they left.
It was gone one o'clock when they finally got to Nottingham, in spite of Spike's utter disregard for such Highway Code niceties as speed limits and traffic lights. They parked in the yard of an abandoned factory building, and Spike explained that there was an entrance to the cave system through the cellar. Spike pulled aside the blanket on the back seat to reveal a frightening arsenal of melee and missile weapons, and picked out a small axe.
"Borrow what you need," he commented, and Giles absently wondered how they could possibly have explained this to the police if they had been pulled over. Then he picked out a crossbow and a small bag to put the magic components in.
As they went down into the abandoned building and into the caves Giles reflected that it had been a long time since he had done this. Of course, he staked vampires as and when the opportunity arose, but it had been years since he had actually gone hunting for demons. He had forgotten quite what an adrenaline surge it was, and suddenly didn't feel quite so old, even beside the eternally young man who had dragged him into this.
"Right," Spike was explaining in hushed tones as they walked. "There's only the one Rasjahn demon, so it shouldn't be too hard to deal with. It probably won't even be in at this time of night. More likely out looking for nice juicy humans to rip the innards out of."
"Yes, thank you for that mental image," Giles muttered, wondering for the umpteenth time why he had ever agreed to this.
Spike must have seen his expression, and grinned.
"Not wussing out on me are you? You know, maybe you are getting a bit old for this..."
"Not bloody likely," Giles cut him off before Spike could get into full taunting flow.
"Yeah, well, I don't want you dropping dead of a heart attack before you get those wards down, so just leave the fighting to me. I can handle any action that comes our way."
"Let's just try to avoid action of any kind, shall we? The faster we get in and get that crystal of yours, the faster we can get out and be on the way home. For preference before the Rasjahn comes home and has us both for breakfast."
Spike muttered something that might have been "Wuss," but Giles could see the vampire becoming tense as they crept along the tunnel, and they both quieted. Eventually they came to an opening in the sandstone wall on the right of the tunnel, and Spike pulled up and waved Giles to stay back while he peeked round the edge of the doorway, twitching aside the heavy drape that hung across the opening.
"We're alright. It's not in," he said, and ducked into the room, even though the doorway itself was almost eight feet high.
Giles followed him in, and stopped in the doorway, slightly surprised at the sight before him. He had been expecting a typical demon lair, all mangy and untidy. What he saw was a large cave with shelves carved neatly into the walls, a large mattress in the corner with the covers folded into a perfectly made bed, and several items of furniture including a chest of drawers, a table, and a wardrobe. On the walls were several torches and candles set back into hollows, and five swords of a variety of styles were hanging in decorative places around the room. It was, well, homely.
Spike had lit two of the torches while Giles was looking around, and he ushered Giles into the room, before taking one last look back into the tunnel outside.
"We're clear. Right, the stuff was on the table before. See that box?"
Spike was pointing to a small ornate box in the centre of the table, and Giles approached cautiously. When he got closer he could see the faint glow of magic covering most of the table in a semi-spherical arc.
"Can you do it?" Spike breathed over his shoulder.
Giles slid the bag off his shoulder and pulled out a few of the components he had grabbed. "You know, I believe I can."
He was vaguely aware of Spike prowling around the room behind him as he worked, mixing powder and shredding herbs and roots into a small bowl. Within five minutes Spike was already becoming impatient, but Giles was not inclined to hurry. He knew that a genuine sorcerer could negate the wards with a single word, and no need for any components. But he was not a genuine sorcerer. So, whether Spike liked it or not, it was going to take some time.
Half an hour later he was ready and warned Spike to keep quiet before he started reciting the appropriate ritual. He just hoped that a general negation spell would take down all of the wards at once, because he had very little way of identifying each individual protection spell that had been cast. As he reached the end of the incantation he sprinkled the powder mixture over the wards. There was a brief crackle, and the energy of the wards flared brightly. Then it was gone, and Giles let out the breath he didn't even realise he had been holding.
"Past it indeed?" he commented to Spike rather smugly. "I think you'll find there's life in the old codger yet."
"Get on with it, Spike. The wards are down, get what we came for and we can get out before the Rasjahn come back."
Giles finally looked round. Spike was backing towards him, staring at the doorway. Giles followed his gaze, and froze.
The eight foot tall doorway was filled by a red demon. Filled. And the demon was ducking down to get below the lintel. Bizarrely, Giles found his gaze rather more fixated on the demon's extraordinarily large claws.
The demon directed its furious glare at Spike.
Spike shrugged. "Well, yeah, you got me there."
"When I saw you last night I was unprepared. You should not have returned."
Giles reached slowly behind himself for the crossbow. He had put it down on the floor to do the spell, and he realised with some alarm that the bolts were all in the bag. He really was out of practice at this sort of thing to have made such a stupid mistake. Spike at least was still holding an axe, and they stood side by side, facing off against the demon as it stepped into the room towards them.
"Think we can take it if we rush it?" Giles whispered, trying to keep his lips from moving.
"Piece of cake," Spike whispered back, sounding a lot less confident than his words suggested.
Then, one by one, five vampires filed into the room behind the demon and ranged themselves firmly in front of the only exit.
In almost perfect synchrony, Spike and Giles said, "Oh, bloody hell."
Then, all bloody hell broke loose.
Spike charged at the demon, swinging the axe in a wide arc and yelling profanities in a language that Giles suspected wasn't human. Giles dropped to a crouch and loaded the crossbow faster than he had ever done in his life, and a bolt was flying through the air even as Spike buried the axe into the demon's chest. The bolt hit a vampire in the eye, and he staggered back, screaming.
"Nice shooting, Tex," Spike said, heaving the axe out for a second swing.
Giles didn't tell him that he had been aiming for the vampire's heart.
Before he could get another bolt loaded two of the vampires had charged him, and he jumped to his feet, swinging the crossbow round to batter a vampire in the face with it. The second one was on him before he could swing the crossbow round again, and knocked it out of his hands. Giles returned the favour with an elbow to the face and then ducked out of the way of the vampire's lunge. Out of the corner of his eye he saw the Rasjahn hurl Spike across the room and he hit the wall, hard. Even as Spike staggered to his feet, stunned, the two remaining vampires charged at him.
Giles quickly turned his attention back to the two vampires in front of him, and rolled under the arc of a punch, grabbing the broken shaft of the crossbow as he went. Deftly getting to his feet he found himself behind one of the vampires and rammed the broken shaft into his back. He exploded into dust a moment before the other vampire kicked Giles hard in the stomach, and he doubled over.
"Spike," he gasped. But Spike was a little occupied with the two vampires he was fighting. Giles saw Spike kick one of them away, but the other had got round behind him and Spike had to spin round to face her. At the same time Giles saw the demon pick the axe up and hurl it at Spike's back.
"Duck!" Giles yelled.
Spike dropped to a crouch instantly, and the axe whistled over his head to thunk into the vampire's neck, neatly decapitating her.
Then Giles had other things to worry about when the remaining vampire that he was fighting picked him up and threw him into the table. It smashed into several pieces and the contents of the box spilled across the floor. Giles reached for a splintered piece of wood from the table leg, but before he could get hold the vampire picked him up again and threw him against the wall, away from his weapons. But not away from all weapons.
Giles felt an adrenaline fuelled smile cross his face as he looked up to see two swords hanging on the wall above him. Not ornamental swords, not fancy decorative affairs, not blunted display pieces. A curved Samurai katana, and a heavy broadsword, both in excellent condition, both deadly.
He leapt to his feet and grabbed the katana, swinging it round into the vampire as he came at him. The vampire leapt backwards, and the sword barely grazed across his front, but it was enough to make him back off for long enough for Giles to grab the broadsword as well. He turned round to see Spike back-pedalling towards him, dodging wildly as the vampire he was fighting swung Spike's own axe at him again and again.
Giles feinted at the vampire in front of him, and ducked round to get back into the middle of the room.
"Spike," he called, and threw the broadsword. Spike caught it out of the air and suddenly they found themselves back to back, surrounded by three advancing vampires and a demon.
"Having fun?" Spike commented, holding a vampire at sword's length.
"'There's only one Rasjahn demon, it shouldn't be too hard,' he said." Giles imitated Spike's accent as he reminded the vampire of his own words. He swung the katana at a vampire, nicking his cheek, and then lunged to impale his opponent while he was still recovering from the surprise.
"Yeah, whatever," Spike muttered. He parried the axe to the side, and twisted his grip on the sword to smash the pommel into his opponent's face.
"'Piece of cake,' he said," Giles imitated again. He yanked the sword out of the vampire's chest and kicked him backwards, already swinging the katana in an arc that ended when the vampire's head was detached from his shoulders.
"Alright, alright." Spike dropped to a crouch and grabbed a discarded crossbow bolt. He thrust it into the vampire's chest as he stood up, and didn't even bother to wait to see the creature dust before he swung the broadsword at the last, already half-blinded, vampire as Giles turned to do the same. Giles impaled him through the chest and Spike finished him off with a swift decapitation.
The last vampire exploded into dust in front of them, leaving them standing side by side, facing one very pissed off Rasjahn demon.
Giles was panting hard, grimly aware of blood flowing down the side of his face, and tiredness in his arms.
"Think we can take it if we rush it?" Spike tightened his grip on the broadsword as he threw Giles' own words back at him in a surprisingly good approximation of Queen's English.
Giles and Spike glanced at each other, at the demon, and in the moment of mutual understanding, Spike grinned.
The demon charged. Giles dropped and swung the katana low, hitting the demon's calf muscle. Spike leapt high, and rammed the broadsword into the demon's breastbone. The Rasjahn clawed Spike, battering him across the room for a second time, leaving the sword sticking out of its chest. Giles cut upwards into the demon's abdomen, spinning out of the way of a second claw as he did so. He impaled the demon's side and then pulled away again, and ducked under the demon's swing to get around behind it. The demon turned around before Giles could get an attack on its back, and he found himself trying to parry claws with a sword. Behind the demon he saw Spike get up and grab his axe. He ran at the Rasjahn and buried the axe in its back. The demon threw its head back and roared. Giles thrust his sword upwards and at almost the edge of his reach his blade found the demon's throat.
Spike slid gracefully out of the way as the demon finally toppled over, two swords still embedded in its front, and an axe in its back.
In the calm after the fight, Giles caught his breath and wiped blood from his cheek. The vampire had not come away unscathed either, and Giles saw that his t-shirt was torn open and ragged claw trails of blood were already closing on his chest.
Eventually Spike wandered over to the shattered remains of the table and picked through the mess until he found what he was looking for - a small translucent crystal. He held it up to the light, examined it for a long moment, and then a triumphant smile slowly spread across his face. Giles saw no humour in the smile, and felt a sudden chill as he was reminded of the Spike of old. Then the moment passed and Spike tucked the crystal into his pocket and wandered over to stand by him.
"Well, I think that just about concludes our business. See anything you want to nick?"
Giles looked around. "Well, it was a rather nice sword."
Spike reached over and pulled the katana out of the demon's corpse, and then retrieved the axe and the broadsword as well. When Giles gave him a questioning look Spike commented, "Compensation for the crossbow."
They headed out and were back at the car within half an hour. Even with Spike's maniacal driving the sun was up by the time they reached Giles' home in Bath, and Spike stopped in the shade of some overhanging trees down the road from the house rather than going up to it.
"I rather think that repays my promise in full," Giles commented, still sitting in the car.
"Oh, yeah. So, was the text worth it? It was the Word of Bashkiri, right?"
"Oh, yes. It was incomplete, but it was the Word of Bashkiri. Although I'm not convinced it was worth all of that."
"Don't act all offended that you got dragged into a bit more than you bargained for. I saw the look on your face. You can't tell me you didn't enjoy it."
Giles was loath to admit the vampire was right, but he couldn't deny that even through the mind numbing terror of mortal combat, he had enjoyed the rush of the fight, and he was surprised not only at his own reaction but at how well they had worked together. It was almost tempting to go demon hunting with Spike again if the opportunity arose. Almost.
But not quite.
"I expect I'll be seeing you again sometime?" Giles asked as he got out of the car.
"Count on it." The words held a promise, and Giles wondered if the vampire was already planning their next deal.
Spike pulled the door closed and sped off before Giles could even formulate a goodbye, leaving him standing on the side of the road in the early morning light.
As Giles walked the rest of the way home, katana tucked under his jacket in spite of the complete lack of people around at this time of a morning, he contemplated Spike's parting words.
I really must revoke his invite, Giles reminded himself, before he went inside and finally headed to bed.