Title: 'Giles and Spike: The Watcher and the Vampire'
Author: Jane Davitt
Web page Jane's Stories
Spoilers: refers to all seasons of BtVS and the first episode of AtS season five.
Giles and Spike: The Watcher and the Vampire.
The chances are good that you find Spike, or Giles, or both, hot. If you do, you won’t get any arguments from me, and although some people share Buffy’s belief that Giles having a private life is not allowed ‘...because you’re very, very old, and it’s gross’ (‘The Freshman’ 4.1), most of us are more likely to marvel at the lack of action he sees, considering what he’s like. And Spike defines ‘hot’ for too many fans for me to need to waste time describing his blue eyes, set in that inclined to the side head, with those chiselled...Yes. Well.
So they’re hot (and also witty, snarky, Englishmen who know their bullocks from their bollocks, and are capable of inspiring, and experiencing, passion, loyalty and love), but are they hot together? And here, it seems, most people tend to look baffled and back away, because as ‘ships go, Giles/Spike just isn’t one of the better known ones.
You don’t know what you’re missing.
Like many people, my first introduction to slash was Spike/Xander. I was hooked, adored the pairing (still do!) and I embarked on an epic S/X fic shortly after. It wasn’t until mid-way through the sequel that I introduced Giles into the fic, and it was then that my problems began.
Giles and Spike wouldn’t stop flirting, you see. Fighting, snarking, getting close - and then getting yanked apart by the scruff of their necks as I tried to remember this was an S/X fic, darn it. It ended up with me scrapping two chapters, gritting my teeth and finishing it at a gallop.
Then I let go of them, and watched them smack into each other like a magnet and a fridge.
Sure, canonically you get matchstick splinters to work with rather than the two by four planks of subtext we’ve learned, through interviews and DVD commentaries, were deliberately left lying around to shore up other pairings, but that just makes it more of a challenge. If you wanted easy, you should’ve ‘shipped Snyder/Flutie.
And yes, there’s the trifling matter that it’s not until ‘Pangs’ 4.8 that they’re shown talking to each other (yes, really) and fine, Giles connives with Wood to get Spike killed in season seven, but, in all seriousness, show me a major pairing where that hasn’t happened.
And anyway, Giles keeps Spike tied to a chair or chained in his bathtub, feeding him blood from a mug bearing the
So what makes a pairing attractive in general? I’d say, because I love alliteration, ‘canon and chemistry’. Then I’d shuffle my feet and admit that canon isn’t vital, or you wouldn’t have the, often excellent and persuasive, fics that pair characters never shown to be on the same show, let alone in the same room. Or rather, it isn’t the canon of the characters’ interaction that’s important when it comes to writing fic, as much as the canon of what those characters are like; how they behave, how they react, who they are.
The show’s writers couldn’t and didn’t pair everyone and anyone the way we fic writers do, but what they did was create characters that gravitate towards each other when set in free motion, and when they bump, their interlocking parts fit very nicely thank you. Giles and Spike, for me, are two pieces of green and blue puzzle and just when you’re thinking, nah, they don’t fit, you stare at the picture on the box in precisely the right way and realise that it’s that wave, just where the sun hits it, or maybe that piece of carpet sticking out from under the chair with the black cat on it...
So if canon is helpful, within limits, let’s look at the other component.
Chemistry. A zing, a fizz and a tingle when they’re together; a sense that as soon as we’re not looking they’re moving purposefully toward each other and is that a sharply bitten off gasp as someone falls to their knees and a zip gets tugged down? Now that’s something you have to decide yourself. I get it from this pairing, and have from the time I stumbled, an avowed reader of Spike/Xander and nothing else will do, onto ‘Tea and Biscuits’ and emerged, dazed, hours later, horizons irrevocably broadened, opinion changed.
I can’t convince you to drool – shan’t try - but I can try and explain what these two can offer each other.
However, and I’m sure Giles would approve, as it comes first alphabetically, let’s start with canon. Way too much G/S interaction to include it all here but let’s see what stands out.
Canon or Friends Help Friends (even when they're mortal enemies).
Canonically, Giles is a Watcher; his life pledged and dedicated to helping fight vampires. Even when he’s fired and marginalised as Buffy grows beyond needing him, that early training holds. Spike, evil, chipped or souled, is a vampire and Giles never forgets that; he never can. And yippee, score...we’ve got doomed lovers here, people, and a forbidden love because if a Slayer and a vampire getting, uh, close, raises eyebrows, do you really think a Watcher and a vampire would get an approving smile and a pat on the head?
Giles, you’d think, would be the last person Spike would ever turn to when he needed help, the last person, given his history, to extend a hospitable hand of friendship...but Spike does and Giles is – and it goes both ways.
Let’s look at the canonical facts. At a time when Spike is at his lowest ebb to date; newly chipped, and as yet unaware that he can hurt demons, he goes to Giles’ house for sanctuary, and he does it on Thanksgiving; a time celebrating the rescue of the hungry, starving, yet still potentially threatening, English settlers by their perceived adversaries, the rightful owners of the land. And Giles, cautiously, suspiciously, with rope in one hand and a stake in the other, invites him in, houses and feeds him and only sends him away when Olivia’s visit is imminent. Yes, I’m mentioning Olivia. She happened. She’s real. She’s canon.
But so (though it wasn’t, sadly, for long) was Spike chained in the tub. Oh, the fics that have been written about that one brief shining, really very short time, when Spike and Giles lived together! Masses of them, and if someone tells you that, like Spike-tied-to-a-chair-in-Xander’s-baseme
Walk away – and then pause at ‘A New Man’ 4.10 in which an amused, vaguely sympathetic Spike helps Fyarl!Giles escape from the Initiative and regain his former status; an interesting parallel with Spike’s own experiences, as he’s now discovered some balm in Gilead and, able to defend himself from demons, has exchanged the dank darkness of Xander’s basement for a cosy crypt with no view. We see the dynamic shift; they’re no longer adversaries and Spike’s no longer the weaker of the two; Giles is vulnerable, Giles is demonic, misunderstood and hunted...and Spike is his mentor, guide and rescuer.
In extremis, as I’ll show, these two help each other out. It’s not always for the best of motives (in this case, it’s cash that drives Spike’s helpfulness) and it’s sometimes a side effect rather than a motivating force ( as in ‘Becoming Part two’ 2.22 when Spike intervenes to stop Angelus killing Giles because it’s one of the conditions Buffy made when she agreed to spare Drusilla) but it’s a constant.
And it leads, in ‘The I in Team’ 4.13, to Giles being Spike’s first visitor in his new crypt to pay him the three hundred dollars he promised him. More than that, after some snarking, which these two thoroughly enjoy, and it shows, we have the following exchange.
Giles: 'Thinking about your, uh, affliction, and your newfound discovery that you can fight only demons, it occurs to me that – I realise this is completely against your nature but I-I – has it occurred to you that there may be a higher purpose –‘
[Spike, who has been counting the money and lost his place, snaps at him, clearly indifferent, and Giles, defeated, turns away.]
Spike: ‘This bit of business wraps up any I got with you and your Slayerettes. From here on I want nothing to do with the lot of you.’
Giles: ‘Your choosing to remain in Sunnydale might make that a little difficult.’
Spike: ‘Well you and yours will just have to show a little restraint is all. Get out.’
Giles head for the door and Spike follows him.
Spike: ‘And I don’t want you crawling back here knocking on my door pleading for help the second teen witch’s magic goes all wonky, or little Xander cuts a new tooth. We’re through. You got it?’
Giles opens the door and the sunlight streams in, making Spike flinch. He looks a little hurt as he glances back at Spike, who says callously,
Spike: ‘Honeymoon is over.’
Giles leaves silently.
So much in that to think about. Giles, the Watcher, thanking a vampire, and repaying a debt of honour. Giles offering said vampire a chance to fight on the side of good, and suggesting that perhaps Spike’s current predicament/situation, is down, not to a chance meeting with the Initiative troops, but the machinations of the Powers – which, considering what happens later in season seven might very well be the case. Giles making it plain that Spike is different; offering him in fact a position not too far away from the one Angel occupied.
And consider the language used by Spike, who, it seems is protesting a little too much when he pushes Giles away; ‘we’re through’, ‘honeymoon’s over’, ‘don’t come crawling back to me’, ‘want nothing more to do with you’...all classic phrases used when a couple fight and break up.
And Spike’s declaration of independence lasts...oh, not long at all. The next day, engulfed in a blanket and pursued, not by bears but the Initiative soldiers who, in addition to the chip, have just planted a tracking device in him, he heads for Giles, rather like a homing pigeon himself. Once again, he’s asking for help and though Giles is still stinging from being rejected, he gives it. Eventually.
Giles: ‘And how is this our concern? Seeing as how you’ve expressed the desire to have nothing more to do with us?’
Spike goes for sympathy by shrugging off his coat and showing Giles that he’s been shot; Giles isn’t impressed and, ignoring Xander and Anya, asks softly, making it personal,
Giles: ‘Remind me. Why should I help you?’
Spike: ‘Because you do that. You’re the goody-good guys. You’re the bloody freaking cavalry.’
Giles: ‘No, you can come up with a better answer than that. Why should I help you?’
Spike [has a brainwave]: ‘Ooh! Because I helped you! When you turned into that Fyarl demon, I helped you, didn’t I?’
Giles: ‘And that was out of the uh, evilness of your heart?’
Spike [positively chortling at the very idea] ‘Oh, hell, no! I made you pay me [grin drops away as Giles looks implacable]. You right bastard.’ [Gets out crumpled remnants of Giles’ cash and slaps it into Giles’ waiting hand]
Again, the balance shifts. Spike might initially think Giles is weak, because he’s ‘good’, but Giles keeps on proving that he might be merciful but he’s not going to be a pushover. Spike needs that reassurance of strength; it’s what he’s used to from Angel.
We then cut to Spike, bare-chested and bent over a chair while Giles stands behind him, probing him gently - look, he is, okay. Would I make this up? Actually, as Xander and Anya hold flashlights. Giles is trying to get the bullet out of Spike and discovering that it’s more than a bullet; it’s a tracking device.
Spike, as a vampire, can withstand a lot of pain and will heal rapidly, so it’s worth noting that Giles offers his own cognac to dull the pain, and later tells Spike that it would be ‘wise’ if he left Sunnydale. Spike refuses; he’s not going until the chip’s removed. Showing his awareness of the oddness of his desire to help Spike, Giles says,
Giles: ‘Spike – Lord knows why I’m telling you this – it’s for your own good. As long as the Initiative is in operation, it’s not safe for you here.’
And we’ve reached a point where Giles cares about Spike’s safety. We’ve come a long way in a short time...and we’ll go further, but before I skip on to the end of season five, I’ll pause at a time when Giles is having to deal with the fact (and it’s no use trying to avoid it when you’re writing this pairing because it’s useful, sort of) that Spike is obsessed with/in love with Buffy.
In ‘I Was Made to Love You’ 5.15’ Giles, always protective of Buffy, rejects Spike, warns him off, threatens him – and intimidates him physically. Giles isn’t happy about Spike’s crush, isn’t happy at all. And if a fanfic writer wanted to speculate that Giles had other reasons for feeling unhappy at this point than Buffy’s safety, well that’s absolutely fine because the scene is one where Spike and Giles might as well be alone for all the attention they pay to the Scoobies; it’s the two of them, eyes locked, totally focused on each other.
Giles [takes off his glasses, moves closer] ‘Spike, listen to me.’
Spike : ‘It’s just – I’m trying to explain. She might’ve said some things that sounded like I expressed some kind of feeling –‘
Giles shoves Spike hard and he stumbles against a bookcase, Giles follows him, glaring.
Giles: ‘We are not your friends. We are not your way to Buffy. There is no way to Buffy.’ He picks up Spike’s blanket and slams it into his chest. He gets very close and stares at Spike. ‘Clear out of here. And, Spike – this thing? Get over it.’
Spike: ‘Don’t know what you mean.’
Giles: ‘Yes you do. Move the hell on.’
Once more we see Spike, desperate because he’s revealed his feelings and been summarily barred from Buffy’s house, turning to Giles to make it all right again. He’s in trouble and Giles, thinking, not without some justification, that Buffy will never return Spike’s love, does help him by trying to make it as brutally plain as possible that it’s never going to happen. He tries.
And Spike, humiliated, leaves...but he doesn’t move on in the way that Giles meant, instead he continues to change to become someone that Giles can share this moment with in ‘The Gift’ 5.22.
Buffy delivers a terse warning that she’ll kill anyone who comes near Dawn and Spike and Giles exchange glances.
“Well, not exactly the St Crispin’s Day speech, was it?” Spike remarks dryly.
“’We few, we happy few...’” Giles murmurs in reply.
“We band of buggered,” Spike finishes, capping and personalising the quotation.
Three lines that say so much. In the first place, it’s a nice reminder that Spike isn’t your average vampire. He’s alluding to an event in English history – one probably no one else in the room would know much about, but Giles, when King Henry V rallied his army as they prepared to fight the French at Agincourt in 1415. Giles responds, not with the usual dismissal of Spike with a terse, impatient put-down as Xander and Buffy are so fond of doing, but by quoting ironically from the Shakespearian play, ‘Henry V’, obviously expecting Spike to be familiar with it - and indeed he is, to the extent that he can not only cap the quotation, but give it a typically irreverent twist.
Even more than that, if we look at more of the quotation, in its unsullied form, it’s particularly apposite.
This story shall the good man teach his son,
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by
From this day to the ending of the world
But we in it shall be remembered,
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers.
For he today that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition.
Henry V Act 4, Scene 3
‘The ending of the world’...that’s something they both know a lot about. Spike, for all his activities with the Judge, drew the line at Angelus’ plans to finally bring an end to ‘this scepter'd isle, This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars, This other Eden, demi-paradise,’ or, in his own words, the home of Manchester United, and Giles has been instrumental in halting many plans designed to bring about an (it’s never ‘the’ on BtVS or Angel, is it?) apocalypse.
‘Band of brothers’. Well, if the Scooby gang is anything, it’s a family. Dysfunctional at times, and Spike’s the black sheep, ne’er do well whose name’s been well and truly crossed out of the family Bible, but yes, brothers in arms.
‘Sheds his blood’...this really is the sine qua non. They’ll all bleed that night, from wounds both physical and spiritual and, as Spike tells them, with a weary certainty, ‘...it’s always got to be blood [...] It’s what keeps you going, makes you warm, makes you hard – makes you other than dead.’
And finally, the implication that if Spike ranges himself on their side in this fight he, ‘Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile’; his ‘condition’ will be ‘gentled’
And so, at last, we have Giles and Spike not asking for, or offering help to each other, but standing as equals, side by side, to fight evil – and it’s not just during that one battle, as we see when season six opens.
We don’t get to see the summer following Buffy’s death. We don’t get to see what forms the foundation for so many Giles/Spike fics, and rightly so; the time when, as they did separately over Joyce’s death, Giles and Spike unite in guilt and grief to mourn Buffy. We know that it brought them closer though; before Giles leaves in the first episode of season six, we’re treated to a night patrol of the graveyard with Giles and Spike fighting together, exchanging gibes (Spike calls Giles, ‘an over-the-hill shopkeeper’ and, after saving Giles’ life, helps him to his feet, drawling, ‘Oh, poor Watcher. Did your life pass before your eyes? Cuppa tea, cuppa tea, almost got shagged, cuppa tea?’) made affectionate by tone of voice and body language, and laughing together when Tara’s being particularly cute.
Later in the season, in a nod to ‘Restless 4.22’, we get ‘Tabula Rasa’ 6.8 and Giles and Spike deciding that, what with the ‘ruggedly handsome resemblance’ Anya comments on, and the accents, they are, in fact, father and son. Despite the feeling of ‘familiarity’ and ‘disappointment’ Giles feels on looking at ‘Randy Giles’, despite ‘Randy’s’ bitter certainty that he hates his father, the last thing they do – and they won’t meet again until way into season seven – is hug. Awkwardly, brusquely, with an embarrassed cough to cover the emotions, but they hug.
And the next time Giles sees Spike, he’s souled, he’s killed again, under the First’s influence, and Giles is driven, after trying, one final time, to help Spike by determining the root of the trigger the First is using, into plotting to kill him. It’s canon, it can’t be ignored and, looked at objectively, with Spike refusing to cooperate in sharing the details of the trigger, it’s the sort of difficult decision Giles is trained to make – but, like Buffy’s decision to kill Anya in ‘Selfless’ 7.5, it’s made hastily and it seems out of character.
Because Giles and Spike? They help each other. It’s what they do.
Chemistry or My God, it’s Giles and Spike and no, you can’t have too much of a good thing.
I’ve tried to show that, in canon, there’s a definite connection between these two; never all sweetness and light, no, but who wants that anyway? Now it’s time to consider it from another angle; why do they work in fic? How do they work in fic? Are there any constants, any fanon traditions with this pairing?
I’ll start with the last and say; yes. Keep Buffy dead after ‘The Gift’. Not always, but often, and for the fairly obvious reason that with her dead, Spike and Giles have a reason to bond, and with her alive, she’d be an obstacle to any relationship because Spike loves her, Giles cares for her opinion, and she’d be, let’s be kind and say ‘disturbed’, by the thought of them together.
Examples of this include ‘Tea and Biscuits’, ‘Paving Stones’ and ‘Behind Closed Doors’. The last I wrote, and I’m mentioning it with the other two fics because they were the first G/S fics I read and, to a large extent, they exemplified what appeals to me in this pairing so much that I used the AU twist of Buffy’s death being final myself. It felt right.
As to why they work, apart from being a joy to write because of the way they play off each other, they have, if they stop to realise it, each got something to give the other.
It’s a crowded relationship, you see. Standing behind Giles with a wistful, mocking smile is Ethan, standing behind Spike, frowning with disapproval, is Angel – standing between them is Buffy, loved by both and a barrier because of that; but this pairing isn’t a faded copy, a retread or necessarily doomed; it’s a second chance for both of them.
Think about this; as I’ve said, it’s not until ‘Pangs’ that Giles and Spike really meet. Giles is aimless and bored; Spike’s defanged and desperate. In that episode, though they never meet because I imagine Spike would prefer to step out in the noonday sun rather than have Angel see him in this state, Angel returns to Sunnydale. Angel. Spike’s former mentor, former lover, former role model. Giles and Angel will never meet again, Spike and Angel’s next meeting is nearly four years away, but take a snapshot; Giles and Spike are inside, with Spike bound to Giles; Angel’s outside, barred from entering. Spike’s found a new ... well, I want to say ‘owner’, I really do...
Giles can be strong enough, as Angel was, to keep Spike in check, ruthless enough to apply pressure when needed, and yet is prepared to accept Spike as a companion, an equal in time. They speak the same language, both literally,
Spike: ‘Oh, listen to Mary Poppins! He’s got his crust all stiff and upper with that nancy-boy accent. You Englishmen are always so...[realisation dawns] Bloody hell! Sodding, blimey, shagging, knickers, bollocks –oh God! I’m English!’
Giles: ‘Welcome to the nancy tribe.’ (‘Tabula Rasa’ 6.8)
and in the sense that both come from a similar class, have been educated to a similar standard and could, if circumstances allowed, probably get on pretty well. I can see them sitting reading quietly of a night, once Spike relaxes enough to drop the tough boy act; I can see them getting into some wonderfully articulate arguments on anything from soccer to Socrates, I can see them getting out of their skull smashed on single malt and having identical hangovers. I can see them having fun.
And Giles, as we saw in ‘A New Man’ as he gets gloriously drunk with Ethan, really does need some fun in his life.
And if it’s significant that Angel’s around when Spike first goes to stay with Giles, it’s not long before Giles meets up with his old friend and, though it’s never stated explicitly, probable lover. Ethan returns, reminds Giles of all that they were – and by inference are no longer – and then betrays Giles, transforms him, abandons him...and it’s Spike who saves him, Spike who, one would think, would get on quite well with Ethan and who, gleefully in love with living as he is, can make Giles feel young again; remind him of his salad days running wild around London, picking locks, hot-wiring cars and raising hell...and Spike, unlike Ethan, is right there on Giles’ doorstep and, from season four onwards, apart from the odd incident ::cough::Adam::cough:: is fighting the good fight.
Spike is taboo...and not. Older than your average Scooby. Tough enough in the post ‘The Gift’ fics to take whatever punishment Giles inflicts in his grief (this is a pairing with more than a sprinkling of d/s themed fics, including my own contributions; it seems to go with the territory somehow) sensitive enough to notice all the pain, all the bewilderment, all the guilt Giles is feeling, and be able to help because he’s not, and never has been, your average vampire.
They can be good for each other.
This essay doesn’t say all I wanted it to, but I’ve run out of time. Lurking on my hard drive are thousands of abandoned words cut to make this something of a readable length and I’m filled with a gloomy conviction that I’ve not done this pairing, that I adore, justice.
Tell you what; read the fics. They say it all so much better than I can.
There aren’t enough G/S fics out there, but there are some good ones. I asked for suggestions and got a wonderful response. Here’s a list – not complete by any means - of some of my favourites and some new to me that I’m looking forward to reading. Thank you to all who provided links and the authors themselves. To simplify matters, I’ve divided them by season as much as possible.
'Spankin' It' by momentsintime
‘I Think We’re Alone Now’ vid by Wytchi, song by Tiffany. I can’t find a link; if anyone has one, or knows of more G/S vids, I’d be grateful.
'Evening the Score' NC 17 by Flaming Muse
'Festival of Lights' PG13 by Flaming Muse
Season Four Fics
“Revenge’ NC17 by Kindkit
‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’ NC 17 by Atara
‘Playing the Game’ R rated by Evilmaniclaugh.
‘A Day in the Life’ PG13 by Halrloprillalar
‘Kiss the Librarian’ PG 13 by Halrloprillalar
Season Five fics
‘All That You Leave Behind’ NC 17 by Devil Piglet
‘Payment in Full’ by Kindkit
‘Domestication’ NC17 by Kindkit
‘Eternity’s Bright Promise’ NC17 by Jenny
‘Blue Abyss’ NC17 by Inklacedfeather
‘Nitrogen Narcosis’ R by Moonlettuce (could be S4, 5, or 6)
Season Six fics
‘Tea and Biscuits’ NC 17 by Byrne, Magpie and Wesleysgirl
‘Paving Stones’ NC17 by Mad Poetess and Wolfling
‘Behind Closed Doors’ NC17 by Jane Davitt
‘Shades of Grey’ series by Athena.
‘Torn’ NC17 by Ladycat
‘Cuppa’ R by Cave Canem
‘Falling’ NC17 by Jenny
‘Nothing to Say’ R by Wesleysgirl (AU post The Gift)
‘Just Enough’ NC17 by Phendog
‘We Band of Beloved’ NC17 by Willshenillshe
Season Seven fics
‘Fixes’ PG by Zyre.
‘The Deep Understanding of Enemies’ NC17 by Justhuman
‘My Outcast State’ NC17 by Willshenillshe
Post ‘Chosen’ fics.
‘Air Freight, Insured’ PG 13 by Cave Canem
‘For the Souls of the Departed’ R rated by Lostgirlslair
‘A Love of the Ages’ PG14 by Lara
Heartfelt thanks go to glimmergirl for reading through several versions of this and making such helpful suggestions, to wesleysgirl for sharing her thoughts on the pairing, for everyone who provided links, everyone who writes and reads this pairing and
for providing the transcripts I quote from, in part, during this, with my own additions here and there.