Mile Upon Mile
by kbk

"Spike?" The vampire stepped towards the wheelchair. "Giles," he said, "I've come to collect you." "I'd never have guessed," Giles replied. "So, shall we?" Spike took the handles of the wheelchair and started pushing it through the airport terminal. "It's good to see you again," he murmured sincerely. Giles didn't hear him. They made their way through the building and out into the car park, using the disabled exit and the gentle gradient of the ramp.

Giles laughed when they reached the car. "Same colour scheme, at least," he chortled. "Couldn't do without it," his younger-looking companion replied. "I hope my hearse is a little more dignified," said Giles. There could be no reply to that.

Spike lifted his old friend into the car with very little effort, settling him easily, and stowed the wheelchair in the boot with some difficulty, maneouvring the assorted weaponry to fit. He slid smoothly behind the wheel of the car and dawdled his way through the car park. "Where are we going?" asked Giles. "My place," Spike replied, "I've set up a room for you. You'll like it." "Good," the ex- Watcher said, "good. When will the girls be here?" Spike glanced at him briefly, breathing in just a touch sharply, and said, "They'll be here soon. Anya's flying in later today, and Willow ought to be here tomorrow." Giles nodded to himself, watching his reflection in the windscreen. "What about Faith? Dawn? Buffy?" Spike breathed in again, more sharply this time. "Dawn's in town. She'll drop by in a couple of days. We can call on her tonight if you like." "No, no, no," sighed Giles, "I should rest. Be prepared." Spike didn't reply.

They drove in silence for a few miles. Giles shifted uncomfortably in his seat. "Is Willow coming?" he eventually asked. "She's flying in tomorrow," Spike replied, "I'm sure she's anxious to see you." Giles looked out of the side window, watching the streetlights flashing by. "You two don't like each other very much," he said. "Is it because you couldn't save Buffy, or because she couldn't?" "Both," Spike replied, "but we can put up with each other for a little while." "That's good," said Giles, fixing his gaze on Spike, "you're very similar in some ways." "So are we, old man," the vampire replied, "so are we." They drove in silence again, until Giles spoke up. "Your wild stage lasted a little longer than mine," he said. "I had longer to indulge it," came the reply. Silence returned to the car, broken only by the steady rumble of the engine and the wheels on the tarmac.

"How've you been, anyway?" Spike asked. "Have the nurses been treating you well?" Giles cut an amused glance at him, as well he could. "I'm dying, William," he said, "it's something we mortals have a nasty tendency of doing. Other than that, I'm just fine. There's a very nice red-head on weekends." He gazed steadily out of the window, a hint of a smile playing at his lips. Spike glanced at him, a similar smile on his own face. "Don't play the dirty old man, Ripper. I'm better at it than you are." "More experience," Giles said. He paused a little, then said, "but you don't look old." Spike sighed. "Sometimes I feel it," he said. "When people are dying all around you," Giles nodded. "Don't talk about dying around the girls," instructed Spike, "you'll upset them." Giles looked at him for a long moment, then said, "they all know about death. They've seen enough of it." "They've left that behind, Giles," was the reply. "Left me behind," murmured Giles. "Left me behind, and all," mused Spike. "Who did?" Giles asked, honest confusion in his tone. Spike kept his eyes on the road and didn't look at his passenger.

"Had any near-misses lately?" Giles asked miles later, in an attempt to keep conversation going. "I've not been hunting," demurred Spike, "just on the lookout for trouble. I did run into a Suvolte demon a week or two ago, gave me a bit of a work-out." Giles looked up in recognition. "Oh yes, they're cousin to... to, uh..." Spike informatively said, "Kellerath demons." "I know that," Giles snapped. Spike didn't reply. "I knew that," Giles protested, "I was merely... having a little trouble remembering." Spike paused before deciding it was best to reply, "of course."

Giles didn't seem to hear him. He simply kept on staring out of the window, watching the lights go by. "I know," he said eventually, "that I'm not as... sharp as I used to be. But I'm not stupid. I know that sometimes I make mistakes, but I still know all the things I have learned over the course of my natural life. I'm still... still me." He fumbled his glasses off to rub them clean on his shirt. Spike watched him for a few long moments. "I know, Giles. Or whoever you are. Rupert "Ripper" Giles, Watcher - ex - and father- figure to who knows how many..." Spike trailed off, and that was an end to it for another few miles.

"Are we going to see Anya?" asked Giles. "She'll be here soon," Spike told him, not a hint of impatience in his voice. "We're not going to her house?" was the next query. Spike shook his head slightly, and told his guest, "we're going to mine." Giles nodded, and watched the road rushing up to them. "I've always wondered," he said contemplatively, "why humans don't need invited into vampire's lairs." Spike snorted. "The natural as opposed to the supernatural. You're natural, or so they say." He glanced across with a mockingly raised eyebrow. "I'd rather not be," said Giles, quiet and low. Later still, Spike said, "I should have turned you years ago." Giles looked at him patiently. "How many times do I have to say it? I didn't want you to."

Spike watched the road, and Giles watched the lights, and they drove on through the night in silence.


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