By Jane Davitt
Sequel to Predatory Acts
“Giles listen to me, let me explain,” Xander said, the words coming out in a frantic whisper. He tried again, achieving a slightly higher volume. “It’s not what you think.” Oh, wonderful, he thought. I sound so convincing.
Giles raised his hand as if he were going to hit Xander, fist clenched, knuckles gleaming white where the skin was dragged thin over bone. “How can you know what I’m thinking, Xander, when I don’t know myself? What can you possibly say to make this seem right?” He glanced at his hand as though it belonged to someone else and Xander flinched away, less from the expected blow than from the idea of Giles being angry enough to strike him.
Giles moved back, his face going slack with shock at what he had almost done. Xander saw him struggle with the emotions that swirled around them both, as abrasive as sand in the wind, and watched helplessly as Giles twisted away and drove his fist against the wall, his lips peeled back in a soundless grimace of pain.
Xander saw his fist come back again and grabbed at his arm, seeing the blood oozing from the torn skin of Giles’ hand. “Stop it, Giles! Please...”
It was like trying to hold back the sea. Giles shouldered him aside and rammed his fist against the wall again, the noise of the blow merging with the guttural, deep sound he made as his knuckles were scraped raw.
“Fine! You want to hit things? I can do that, too Giles. But I’m not stupid. I use this,”
Xander grabbed the hammer he’d been using and smashed it down, inches above Giles’s hand as it hit the wall for a third time, overriding Giles’ violence with his own, forcing him to retreat.
Giles turned to look at him, his eyes searching Xander’s face, the anger giving way to a dull, disillusioned expression. He stood silent, automatically nursing his injured hand, his lips tight as the pain began to seep through.
Xander spoke quietly. “Two years. I’ve loved him for two years, Giles. Why kill him now?”
The metallic glint in Giles’ eyes faded and Xander was looking at Giles again, just Giles. The man who scolded him, corrected him, used him as an errand boy. The man who had taught him, protected him and loved him for years. For the second – or was it the third? - time in less than a day, Xander felt tears sting his eyes. To have Giles look at him like this – his eyes tired and desperate – to know that Giles had been about to kill for him, to risk a confrontation with a vampire who was still far from safe –
Giles reached out suddenly and pulled Xander to him, his arms going around him in a brief, infinitely comforting hug. Xander rested his head on Giles’ shoulder, needing to hold onto someone, just for a moment, just until the room stopped whirling around him. Giles patted his back and pulled away gently.
“I think we need to discuss this calmly, Xander. I can’t promise, but I’ll try not to –”
The dangerous look came back, the brief reconciliation over. “No. I was going to say, lose my temper again. I’m still going to kill him.”
Xander had had enough. Maybe it was his turn to have a tantrum. “You go through me first then. Or are you going to drop the Ripper act and listen? Since when did my love life become your business?”
“’Love’?” Giles gave an incredulous, scornful laugh. “Are you mad, Xander? This is Spike we’re talking about. He’s incapable of the emotion.”
Xander stared at him, meeting his eyes without flinching. “Maybe. But I’m not.”
Giles was left wordless for a moment. He moved away, his shoulders slumped and stared out of the window. Xander watched him, wondering just when his legs had started trembling. It had all happened so quickly...
“I don’t understand what you mean. Two years?” Giles had recovered his composure enough to ask questions, Xander thought wryly. That had to be a good sign.
“It’s a long story full of Hellmouthy goodness.”
Giles turned his head. “I have time to listen. It’s still an hour to sunset.”
The threat implicit in his words made Xander’s head throb as he forced back the hot anger. “Giles, you are not going anywhere near Spike like this. Understand?”
Giles took off his glasses to polish them, a ritual Xander had seen a thousand times. Without them he never seemed to peer around uncertainly or look as if the world had turned blurry. Giles was always focused, always in control. Changing his mind would be a challenge. The glasses slid back on and Giles studied Xander’s face for a long moment before gesturing at the door. “Let’s go and make ourselves comfortable then and you can tell me what you think I need to know.”
Xander frowned at that phrasing and hung back, suspicion flaring. Giles noticed and sighed. “I assure you, Xander, my concern for your well being doesn’t include pushing you down a flight of steps to get you out of the way while I go and find Spike.”
Xander shrugged. “You just had me in an arm lock, Giles. I’m not big with the trusting right now.”
Giles ducked his head but not quickly enough. Xander saw the hurt flash across his face and winced. “I’m sorry –”
Giles held up a hand to ward him off. “No. I deserve that. I acted impetuously. I had my reasons but even so it was wrong of me. I’m sorry.”
He walked out of the room before Xander could reply, not looking to see Xander’s reaction. Xander stood for a moment before following him, looking at the abandoned project, the neatly stacked wood. He wondered if he’d ever finish it.
Once Giles had dealt with his injured hand, rinsing it and wincing as he doused it with antiseptic, they settled down in the living room, both choosing to sit as far apart as possible. Xander felt unable to begin talking. Where could he start? Giles knew about Spike but he didn’t want to see his face when he found out all of what had happened. Giles sat expectantly, his hands loosely clasped, leaning forward slightly in his chair, but Xander, huddled into a corner of the sofa, could only look at him.
“Xander?” Giles said eventually. “I know this is difficult for you, but if you really want to plead Spike’s cause you have to actually use words. Try your best.”
Giles being sarcastic was blessedly familiar amongst the chaos of the day. Xander smiled. “You know me, Giles. I can talk and talk and never say anything worth listening to. Not so good with the persuading people not to kill things though.”
“I think you underrate yourself but no matter. Perhaps it will help if I tell you how very sorry I am.”
“Sorry for what?”
Giles stared at him. “I sent Spike to you. Forced you to invite him in. It’s my fault that this has happened.”
Xander jumped up. “No way! Giles, you can’t take that on yourself. You needed some space with Olivia coming over, I had room, and it’s not your fault. Besides, this began long before that.”
Giles stood as well and brushed past Xander to pour himself a shot of whisky, pouring it carefully as though the precision was all that saved him from filling it to the brim. “I didn’t send him to you just because Olivia was coming,” he said. “I sent him because if he’d been here with me one more night he’d have driven me mad. Do you have any idea how annoying he can be?”
“Well, yes. Can’t argue with that. If you want aggravating, he’s your man.” Xander said.
Giles shook his head in exasperation. “He’s like a child in some ways. He sees the world as a very simple place. He’s lost every weapon he possesses save his ability to use words to hurt and his undeniable physical attraction. He’s helpless for the first time in decades and he’s panicking, clutching at anything to get him back in control.”
Xander thought about the times he’d seen that panic as Spike waited for the chip to punish him for an unthinking shove or an automatic threat. He wondered how different the world looked to Spike now that he wasn’t at the top of the food chain. He remembered the arrogance, the assurance of two years ago and felt the first stirrings of regret, not that Spike couldn’t kill, but that he’d been twisted and bent like a sword warped out of shape until it was transformed from a weapon to scrap metal.
“He even tried to come on to me after threats didn’t work. Seemed to think I’d get the chip out if he – well. I’m sure you can guess what he offered.” Giles laughed a little bitterly. “I felt rather sorry for him then, he’d lost so much of his self respect, but now he’s tried it on you and you’ve – God, Xander, do you have any idea what you’ve done?”
He broke off, gulping his drink and putting down the empty glass. Xander collapsed back on the sofa, trying to make sense of what Giles had said. Giles joined him. The room was full of shadows now as the light faded and it made it easier to talk.
“I can’t believe Spike tried to – well, why would he? I mean you’re not gay –” Xander looked at Giles who was giving him a patient look, as if he were waiting for him to catch up. “Oh, God. Officially freaked here.”
Giles rubbed his forehead. “I’m not gay, precisely, Xander, if that’s what’s got you blushing. I grew up in an era of, well, we experimented a lot more than your generation seems willing to do. Not your fault perhaps. The fact remains that I’ve had lovers of both sexes and Spike was well aware of the fact that I wasn’t totally indifferent to him from a physical point of view. Just can’t stand the sight of the manipulative little toe rag so turning him down wasn’t that much of an effort.” Giles raised an eyebrow and said with some asperity, “And if that dropped jaw is because you don’t think someone of my advanced age is still interested in sex then –”
“No! Not thinking that at all! Well, maybe a little, but, no. You’re, well, you’re Giles. Don’t tend to think of you and sex and, can I just shut up now? Please?”
Giles grinned for the first time since the conversation had begun. “No, you may not. In penance for your all too predicable response, you may start at the beginning and tell me exactly how you and Spike got to this point. I promise not to judge you and you’ll find it difficult to shock me.”
Xander gave way to the temptation to try. “I ate human flesh and lost my virginity to Spike after I woke up handcuffed to his bed.” He waited expectantly but Giles just looked at him, his face expressionless. “Aren’t you going to say, ‘Good Lord!’ or something?” he asked, slightly disappointed with Giles’ lack of reaction.
Giles forced words out past gritted teeth. “I may be difficult to shock, but if you're going to be deliberately provocative, you may see a side of me that you never suspected
existed. Don't push me, Xander. I don't think you'll like the consequences."
Xander flushed. “Sorry. I’ve had two years to get used to the idea, forgot you haven’t.” He swallowed. “Think it might take more like twenty though.”
Giles looked at him, concern replacing irritation. “I can’t believe you never told us about this. Do you – I mean, are you ready now? Would you like me to call Buffy or –”
“No! No way, Giles. Just you. If I tell them they’ll know that I lied to them.”
“Lied about what?”
Xander met his eyes. “You always knew but they didn’t. They think I can’t remember trying to rape Buffy, they’ve never said a word about it. He offered me a lot but he couldn’t do anything to take that memory away.” Xander shuddered, his hands locked together.
“Who offered you – Xander, would you please just tell me in simple sentences what happened? You’re talking about the time you were possessed by the hyena? But Spike wasn’t even in Sunnydale then.”
“He was, you just didn’t –” Xander broke off as the front door opened and Spike walked in, kicking the door shut behind him. Xander stood up, looking at Giles, also on his feet, with a clear warning on his face. Giles’ eyes were bright with renewed anger as he walked quickly towards the vampire.
Spike smirked at him, realising by his expression that Giles knew what had happened, in part at least. He turned to Xander, the mocking smile turning genuine for a moment. “There you are, pet. You’re late. I told you to be back by sundown.” Spike’s face was a smooth mask of polite amusement as he turned back to Giles. “Hope you had fun playing with him, Rupert but it’s time he went home. Got a lot to do tonight.”
Spike’s gibe shattered Giles’ forced composure. “You really think I’m letting you near him again?”
“Not up to you, is it?”
“I think I don’t really care about the niceties of it all.”
Two steps and Giles was grabbing Spike’s coat in rough hands, thrusting him against a wall and glaring down at him. Xander watched, wanting to help but unsure if his intervention would make things worse. Spike’s head slammed against the plaster but he kept smiling, his tongue flicking out teasingly. “Now, then Rupert. Let’s not get hasty.” His eyes flicked down and his nostrils flared, the smile vanishing. “If you got your hand bloody on Xander I’ll rip it off and make you eat it.”
Giles rolled his eyes and let go of Spike, dislike radiating off him. “Save your concern and your empty threats. The only bruises he has are the ones you left on him.”
“I didn’t hurt him. Or have you forgotten the chip?” Spike growled, his eyes fixed on Giles.
“Oh, I think you’re more than capable of hurting him still. Or you were until I found out –”
Xander heard the angry voices dim as the room began to swirl around him as it had done upstairs. “Standing right here, people,” he said, forcing the words out. “Getting tired of being fought over –”
He swayed and grabbed onto the back of the couch. Spike and Giles both moved towards him but Spike got there first, holding Xander up without any difficulty and dumping him unceremoniously on the couch. He stood and shot Giles an accusing glare. “So you didn’t hit him? What did you do then?”
“Giles didn’t do anything to me, Spike. Just not feeling so good.”
“You’re sick? You should have said something, not come here and worked your arse off for this incompetent wanker.” Spike sneered at Giles. “Should have thought you were good at D.I.Y, Watcher. Or did you finally get some once I’d left you in peace with your English bit?”
Giles looked at Xander and visibly held back the words that rose to his lips. He jerked his head towards a chair. “Sit down and keep your mouth shut, Spike. Xander has something to tell me and until he’s done, he’s not leaving. If you try to interfere I will hurt you. Do you believe me when I say it would give me more pleasure than anything else you said I could do to your body?”
Spike grinned sourly. “When you look like that? Yeah. I believe you.” He sauntered over to a chair, his eyes going to Xander’s face. “It’s all right, love. I’m not going anywhere without you.”
Xander stood up, looking between them both, stricken and lost. “I can’t do this. I can’t –”
Spike was out of his chair instantly and Giles made a sound that was close to a growl. “Sit down, I said.” He looked at Xander. “And that goes for you, too. Sit down before you fall down.” He sighed. “I need a drink. God, do I need a drink.”
“First sensible thing you’ve said since I came in. Get the lad something first; he needs it more than you. Brandy maybe. And while you’re at it, I’ll have one too. Not fussy what. I’ll give you this; you’ve got good taste in booze.”
Xander saw Giles’ outraged face, began to laugh and couldn’t stop. Giles swore and he felt the edge of a glass against his chattering teeth. The fumes from the brandy and the fiery burn as he swallowed some helped calm him and he sat back and looked at the two concerned faces watching him. “Sorry. Been one of those days.” He took another sip. “I’m going to tell you this story just once, both of you, and if anyone interrupts me, I’ll get unpredictably violent, okay?” Two heads nodded and he sighed with relief.
“We were on a field trip to the zoo...”
Continued in Chapter Five