"A sight to dream of, not to tell"
-- Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Spike was dreaming. It was another one of those dreams, the ones he had been having all too often lately. The Slayer was in it. At first they had been fighting, all sweat and violence and bodies clashing with one another. And then it had changed -- and it was still sweat and violence and bodies clashing -- only it was better. Much better. Buffy was naked on top of him, riding him, her body glistening and...
And then the door to the crypt crashed open with enough force to shake the building, and sunlight poured inward, its rays reaching a short way into the gloom. Blurrily Spike managed to open his eyes...in time to see a furious Watcher haul him to his feet by the collar of his coat then slam him against the crypt wall, one hand going around his throat. And the vampire came fully and violently awake as the burns on his back came into sudden and agonizing contact with the wall.
"Bloody hell! What d'you think you're doing, mate?" Which was when he finally noticed the stake in Giles' right hand, levelled at his heart...and the murderous intent in the Watcher's eyes.
"I'll tell you what I'm doing, 'mate' -- I'm putting down a dangerous animal." Giles raised the stake, preparing to bring it down on the vampire.
"Wait a minute!" A frantic note began to creep into Spike's voice. "Remember the chip? I'm not a sodding danger to anyone anymore. So what's this all about?"
"You bit Buffy!"
Memories flashing through his mind. The Slayer's blood gushing down his throat. Her body convulsing beneath his. Nails digging into his naked back.
"Yes. That. And unless you've got a good explanation, you're history, Spike. Good riddance to bad rubbish, I say."
Spike reached up one hand, trying to loosen the fingers around his throat, then gave up. He was still too weak. And oddly enough, he couldn't seem to care much, either way. So what if he got staked into dust? Might be better all round. For everybody.
"Fine," he said at last. "Go ahead. But just tell me one thing first."
Giles' eyes narrowed. "What?"
"Is the Slayer OK?"
* * *
Bafflement shot through Giles, momentarily outweighing his fury. For a moment Spike had almost sounded...concerned. Worried even.
"She'll be fine," he said shortly. "No thanks to you."
With that, Giles suddenly released Spike then hit him on the jaw. The vampire flew backward across the crypt to land hard on the dirt floor while the Watcher stalked menacingly toward him.
"We both know that Buffy would never let you feed off her, at least not in her right mind. So I want to know what you did to her, you manipulative bastard. What hold you managed to gain over her. And get up so I can hit you again."
Spike reached up with one hand, touching the blood that was beginning to trickle down one corner of his mouth, but he made no effort to stand. "What's the point?" he said flatly. "If you're going to do it then just get it bloody over with."
With an inward snarl, Giles bent down and hauled the vampire back up, holding onto him by the duster's collar. "She was injured and you fed off her," he said furiously. "You could have killed her."
"Yeah. I know."
Giles paused again, blinking. What the hell was going on? Was that really...remorse? There had been no hint of mockery in the vampire's voice, none of his usual self-satisfaction. But if Spike had somehow found a way to circumvent the implant, to feed on Buffy...then surely he would be more pleased with himself. More smug. Doubt began to rise within the Watcher.
And at that moment the vampire shifted slightly, his coat falling open. Giles glanced down...and felt shock go through him. Burns. Cross-shaped burns. All over Spike's chest. Wordlessly the Watcher took in the cut on the vampire's cheek, the bare feet, also burned -- and then he abruptly released him, shoving the vampire violently away.
Spike staggered, barely keeping his footing then he shot a venomous glare at the Watcher before limping back to his chair and sinking into it, holding his side tightly with one hand. Giles stared at him for a long moment then slowly lowered the stake.
"What happened to you?"
"Nothing. And if you're not gonna stake me then sod off. I'm busy." The vampire closed his eyes, determinedly ignoring the Watcher.
Giles hesitated then walked over to the tomb and leaned against it, the stake going back inside his coat pocket. He could always use it later if he had to. But in the meantime...he still needed answers.
Buffy had been -- less than forthcoming. Before heading upstairs to bed and some much needed sleep, she had given him a confused tale of something called a "Trial" -- which he was going to have to do some intensive research on as soon as he got back to his shop. But there had been huge gaps in her narrative, most notably whenever Spike seemed to come into the story. She was obviously hiding something. Something important. He hadn't had the heart to push for more information though, not when she was still so weak and exhausted. It was a miracle really that she had managed to stay on her feet as long as she did. The loss of blood, combined with her injuries...well, it was a wonder she was alive at all... And as for the fact that she could see...
Which was why he was here. What had Spike done to her? And what was this Trial? Giles had enough experience with the Otherworld to know there was always a price attached to their gifts...and the more miraculous they were, the higher the price. He had to know what had happened. Without that knowledge -- he wouldn't be able to protect her.
"Let's start again, shall we?" Giles said, a very Ripper-like smile on his face. "You're going to tell me everything that happened tonight, Spike. And if you leave anything out you'll wish I had killed you."
* * *
Spike opened his eyes and stared at Giles with weary hatred. 'Why me?' he thought. 'The rest of it isn't bad enough, now I've got her flaming Watcher out for my blood too.' Life used to be so simple. Eating people, a little carnage and mayhem, Dru always beside him... So where had it gone wrong? When had it all gotten so complex?
'When I fell in love with the sodding Slayer,' he answered himself. And what had that gotten him? Pain, ridicule, contempt, more pain -- Buffy in his arms, kissing him, holding him -- saving him. Her blood was coursing through his veins at this very moment, the taste of her still in his mouth. She was part of him now, he realized. He couldn't change what had happened, couldn't go back to the way he used to be, even if he wanted to. But he couldn't move forward either. He didn't know how. And he probably wouldn't live long enough to try, if her homicidal Watcher had any say in the matter.
"Or you'll what?" he said out loud. "Torture me till I tell you?"
"Seems appropriate, doesn't it?"
The vampire shifted slightly. "It was Angelus that did the torturing, mate. Not me."
"No. You just watched. Now are you going to tell me about this Trial or do I show you a little of what I learned that night?"
"You don't have the stones."
"You think not?" Giles' voice was softer now. More menacing.
Spike stared at him for a long moment. "OK," he said at last. "Maybe you do. But how 'bout you tell me something -- like what did Summers have to say about all this?"
"I'm looking for the unabridged version, Spike. The whole truth."
The vampire raised an eyebrow. "The Slayer keeping secrets from her Watcher? That doesn't sound good," he taunted. "In fact, it sounds like you two have got some serious trust issues..."
He broke off abruptly, his body rocking back from the right cross Giles had dealt him. For a moment the world spun, then Spike shook off the effects and grinned, licking the blood off his lower lip. "Hit a nerve there, did I?"
"It's not going to work this time, Spike," Giles said, more calmly now. "I'm not going to let you try to drive a wedge between us again. Not that you could."
"No? Did all right last time, didn't I? That was quite the sight, the four of you at each other's throats, all..."
"Enough!" The Watcher pulled the stake out again, holding it up slightly. "Tonight, Spike. I want to know about tonight. And what you did to her."
Spike nodded at the weapon with derision. "Can't talk if I'm dead."
The Watcher seemed to hesitate. "Maybe it would be better for her if you were dead."
Spike leaned his head back against the chair. "Yeah," he said, his voice flat and lifeless now. "It might at that."
* * *
There it was again. This whole conversation was...off, somehow. Something was different, something Giles couldn't quite put his finger on. But he would figure it out, he knew. Sooner or later. In the meantime though...
"Did you really save her life?" he asked, watching Spike closely for any signs of evasiveness.
"Is that what she said?"
"Then I guess I did. Three cheers for old Spike. Saved the Slayer. Hoo-bloody-rah."
"And then you fed off her."
"She tell you that too?"
"She didn't need to. I saw the bitemark."
Something flickered across the vampire's face, so quickly that Giles almost missed it. Remembered pleasure. Satisfaction. And -- was that...possessiveness? The Watcher's anger, which had been slowly subsiding, began to simmer again.
"How did you get round the implant, Spike?" That was the most important question, really. If the vampire had somehow found a way to circumvent its effects -- then he died. Right here, right now.
"I didn't," Spike said at last, obviously deciding that the Watcher wasn't going to go away until he got what he had come for. "Turns out the chip works on intent. If I don't plan to hurt her then it doesn't do a bloody thing."
"But you did hurt her."
"There's hurt...and there's hurt. You should know that -- Ripper." The vampire shot a mocking look at Giles. "You really want all the details? Like how she asked for it. How much she enjoyed it. The way she came under me, begging me not to stop, till..."
Spike's voice broke off as he stared down in surprise at the stake that was suddenly protruding from his chest. Then he looked back up and for a long moment the two men stared at each other, Spike's face contorted with agony and dread...until the realization finally hit. "You missed," the vampire coughed at last, his body racked with tremors.
"No I didn't." With a quick yank, Giles pulled the stake back out, calmly watching the way Spike cried out and clutched at his chest. "Next one goes through the heart," he said icily.
Spike's voice was weak. "What do you want from me? D'you want me to say I'm sorry I did it? That I'll be a good little vampire from now on and leave the Slayer alone? Well I'm not, and I won't. You want to know about the Trial? Go back and read those bloody books you're so fond of. 'Cause what happened is between her and me. She wants to tell you, that's her business. But I've said all I'm going to. So either kill me or sod off."
With that, he closed his eyes again, curling slightly in the chair, his arms going around the chest as if he could make the pain go away by sheer force of will, suffering apparent in every line of his body.
And in that moment the suspicion that had been steadily growing within Giles over the last few minutes suddenly crystallized. In that instant he knew why the vampire was doing this, why he had saved Buffy's life, and her sight.
Spike was in love with her.
Blindly the Watcher put the stake down on the tomb, trying to come to grips with this new and rather alarming concept. A vampire in love with the Slayer? Well, that wasn't unique, certainly, but Angel had had a soul. Spike didn't. He was a demon, through and through. And yet... Giles closed his eyes briefly. Maybe he should just stake him, for real this time, and go away. Problem solved. Except...
"Does she know?" the Watcher asked abruptly.
Spike reluctantly opened his eyes. "What?"
Giles sighed then abruptly picked up his stake and headed for the door. The vampire twisted around in the chair to keep him in sight, groaning and holding his chest as he did so.
"Know what? What the bleeding hell are you on about?"
There was a hint of panic in Spike's voice now, as if he was desperate to cover up whatever it was he thought he might have let slip.
The Watcher paused by the door, looked back at him for a long moment, then shook his head. "You poor bugger," he said quietly.
And with that he was gone.
Continued in Part 19