By Jane Davitt
Sequel to Predatory Acts
Xander’s story had been faltering and confusing at times, though the brandy might have been partly to blame. Giles had given him a larger measure than he’d intended and he frowned as he saw Xander gulp it down, shuddering slightly as it burned his mouth, relaxing into the cushion it provided.
Giles hadn’t understood at first why Spike didn’t help Xander out when he searched for words. He wasn’t usually so reticent. Then Xander described the memory charm and Spike’s reasons for taking it, and he drew in his breath sharply, looking past Xander’s face, haunted with old memories, to Spike. “You still don’t know? The memories have completely gone?” he demanded.
Spike nodded. “Thought the lad had gone off his rocker last night when he told me about it. Still trying to get at them but...I can’t. I know they’re still there but –” He shrugged, his frustration evident.
“You’re talking,” said Xander looking at them both reprovingly, his eyes heavy as the brandy seeped into his blood. “I’m not done yet.”
Spike nuzzled into his neck with a casual affection not lost on Giles. “Sorry, pet. But you’re done the bit that only you know about so I can take it from here if you like.”
Xander smiled at him. “It’s just killing you keeping quiet, isn’t it?”
“I can be quiet!” Spike said, hurt.
“No, you can’t,” said Giles. “At least not in the time you were under my roof. I’ve had leaking taps that drivelled less.”
“Was bored, wasn’t I? Easy enough to shut me up if you give me something more interesting to do with my –”
“That will do, Spike,” said Giles, his voice hard. “Xander knows that you did your best to entertain me while you were here but there’s no need to dwell on it.”
Spike raised his eyebrows. “You told him? Rupert, sometimes you surprise me.” He studied Giles and smiled, open and friendly. “Offer’s off though. Missed your chance there.”
Xander looked at him. “Would you really have done - that - to get your chip out?”
His voice was high with hurt and Spike frowned. “That would bother you?” he said doubtfully. Giles cast up his eyes in disbelief. Could even Spike be so clueless?
“Too many ways to list, yeah.”
“Why don’t you start at the top and work down,” Giles suggested a little snidely. “I have a feeling Spike might not be seeing things in quite the same way as you and it could prove instructive.”
Xander swallowed. “Well, I –” He turned to face Spike, his movements slow and slightly exaggerated. Giles leaned back against the arm of his chair, watching them both in the low light of a single lamp. Spike was still touching Xander, as if he couldn’t help it, his thigh against Xander’s leg, his hand resting on his shoulder and Xander was doing more than passively allowing it, he was welcoming it. Three days ago they would have been at opposite ends of the room, the hostility between them a living thing. Giles was still trying to organise his thoughts. Clearly there had been a bond forged when Xander was possessed, severed by Xander’s belief that Spike had rejected him and now reforged. From what he gathered, Spike and Xander had only fed from the woman, not each other. Giles tried to think of anything in vampire lore that applied, but so much of it, even after centuries of research, was guesswork.
Xander seemed to find his courage and began to speak, choosing his words carefully. “I don’t like the idea of you bargaining with your body. You shouldn’t have to do that. I don’t like you ... teasing Giles. He deserves better than that. And sorry, but if you didn’t have the chip I’m not sure where that would put us so I don’t like you planning how to take it out. Well. Guess the list wasn’t that long after all.”
Giles cut in. “It’s academic anyway so perhaps we can just leave it there. We don’t know how to remove it, Spike. And for what it’s worth, I don’t approve of the chip, though obviously I’m relieved that you’re no longer killing.”
“What, not sporting enough for you? Prefer a good old fashioned staking?”
“Frankly, yes. The Initiative scares me more than you ever did.”
Spike looked as if he couldn’t work out if this was a compliment or not and Xander snickered. Spike glared at him. “Not wanting to break up the ‘remind Spike he’s fangless’ party but I didn’t come around here just to be bloody minded. I need Xander with me tonight. Got a demon to see. We should push off. It’s getting late”
Giles welcomed the move to a less emotionally charged subject but Spike’s words made him sit up straight. “Not bloody minded? You stalked in here as if you owned the place! And I suppose tattooing, ‘I belong to Spike’ all over Xander’s neck and back was done from the purest of motives?” He stood up and walked behind the sofa deciding that he did need another drink after all.
Spike smirked, leaning back with arrogance clinging to him as tightly as his jeans. “Got that right, Rupert. Pure possessiveness. Lad’s mine and I didn’t take kindly to – hey!”
“He is not yours, Spike,” Giles said, separating the words with a deadly calm as he gripped the back of Spike’s neck and dug his fingers into the cool skin. “If you ever hurt him based on the mistaken belief that his body is yours to mark, I will carry out my earlier promise and kill you.”
“Giles! Don’t,” said Xander, reaching up to tug at Giles’ arm. “I let him do it. If you’re going to get mad, get mad with me.”
Giles let his hand slide away and sighed. “Xander –”
“No. I know why he did it, my neck I mean. Willow came by with your message and we were –”
“Getting the marks on your back?” said Giles dryly, taking his revenge for Xander’s earlier attempt to shock him.
Xander’s eyes widened and then he grinned a little shyly. “Some of them. I – I was scared. I –”
“You shoved me away, like I was something to be ashamed of,” Spike said bitterly. “Then you talked to me like –”
“Like I always do,” Xander said, not looking at Spike.
“Ah. I see, Spike. I can understand how galling that must have been. You spent the night together and then in the morning light Xander seemed to change his mind. My heart bleeds.”
Spike picked moodily at a loose thread on his jeans as Giles’s sarcasm bit deep. “I got angry.”
Giles slapped him across the back of his head. “Doesn’t excuse you being bloody childish,” he muttered. “Love bites! Did you scrawl Spike and Xander in a heart on the wall outside?” He frowned. “You didn’t, did you?”
Spike gave him a scathing look. “Must you treat me like a punching bag? And what do you mean you promised to kill me?”
Xander leaned forward and patted him on the knee. “’S’O.K. I shaved –saved- you, Spike.”
He giggled as he slurred his words and Spike looked at him with quick suspicion. “Xander, are you drunk? How much of that brandy did you have?”
“All of it and then you were yapping away with Giles so I drank yours too.”
“Oh, well that’s just great! We’re supposed to be going to do a spell, remember?”
“’Spell’?” Giles asked sharply. “You really do plan to take Xander to one of your demon friends? Might I ask why?”
Xander was snuggling down amongst the cushions, his eyes shut, a small smile on his face as he went from awake to asleep with a childlike abruptness. Spike sighed. “Just look at him. Should’ve known this would happen. Lad’s not slept properly for days and he left the house without eating – no wonder it went to his head. I blame you, Giles.”
“Oh, for God’s sake, Spike! You sound like his mother.”
“Oh, please. Have you ever _met_ his mother?”
There was a short silence as Giles remembered his few encounters with the woman. She had flirted with him almost mechanically, ignoring Xander with an indifference that spoke volumes, and Xander had flushed with embarrassment before hustling him down to his dingy basement. “Point taken. Well, no matter what your plans were, they’ll have to wait. I’ll put him up in the spare room for the night. If his parents see him like this -”
Spike glared at him. “I don’t think so. I can get him home.”
“You can’t protect him if you’re attacked en route and I’ve had one too many to drive you.”
“Cautious, law abiding Giles,” Spike sneered.
Giles kept his temper. “If it were vital, I’d drive but as it isn’t and he’ll be quite safe here –”
“I’m not leaving him.”
The words came out with more desperation than Giles had ever heard in Spike’s voice, startling him out of his automatic hostility. “Spike? I don’t understand –”
“You can chain me up again if you want but I’m staying, O.K?”
Giles reached out and touched Spike’s arm fleetingly, surprising himself with a sudden flash of empathy for the vampire. He was still perfectly willing to stake him if it were in Xander’s best interests, but listening to the story Xander had told him had both piqued his curiosity and made him cautious. If they were linked he wasn’t sure how Xander would be affected by Spike’s removal. Xander had seemed to be drawing some kind of reassurance, some strength from Spike’s presence and Giles was reluctant to take that away from him. He was also taken aback by how genuine his dislike of the Initiative was. Their methods might have rendered Spike harmless in one way but what the long term effects would be was something they could not forsee and probably hadn’t bothered to try. “You can stay. With him. Now help him upstairs. I want to talk to you.”
By the time Spike came back down Giles had brewed coffee and was sipping at it slowly. “Is he settled?”
“Yeah. Not drunk enough to throw up or anything. He’s just tired out. Do him good to get some sleep.”
“This is a new side to you, Spike. You’ll pardon me if I find it a little hard to accept as genuine.”
Spike sat down beside Giles, stretching out his long legs. He’d taken off his coat and boots while he was upstairs and Giles noticed that he’d left them by the door, as though prepared to make a hasty exit. He didn’t read too much into that. He had the feeling that Spike had left quite a few places at a dead run.
“Doesn’t matter what you think, does it? Xander knows it is.”
Giles frowned. “Tell me about this demon,” he asked abruptly, his eyes never leaving Spike’s face. “What spell are you planning and why?”
“Giles, if you can’t work that one out for yourself after everything you’ve been told tonight –”
“The charm? You want your memories back? Why? You gave them up voluntarily!”
Spike shrugged. “Wouldn’t you? And I don’t give a toss what I did two years back. I worked it out that I did it because of Dru. She’s not in the picture now, is she, so I can please my bloody self. And I want them back. My first time with him? How could I not?”
“It’s pure supposition that you took the charm out of a desire to help Xander. Shielding yourself from Drusilla’s wrath is more likely,” Giles said coldly.
Spike glared at him. “She was dying! Couldn’t have laid a finger on me, you stupid git. But a human? She’d have gone for him, hunted him down or got someone to do it for her. Dalton, now, he’d have lain down and let her walk all over him, that one. But, fair enough, I don’t know for certain, just a feeling I’ve got, you know?”
“Not really but I can understand why it’s frustrating you to know of the gap in your memories. Whatever prompted Xander to tell you after all this time?”
Spike shrugged. “Far as I can make out, he just cracked. He’s been carrying this guilt around for so long and it just got too much for him.”
“Guilt over the woman in the alley? Spike, tell me and please don’t even attempt to lie, did Xander have any part in her death?”
Spike’s eyes widened. “And just what would you do if I said ‘yes’? He was possessed, remember? Not playing with a full deck. Besides, everything he did got edited out by the spell so I’m just going by what he said; I killed her, he got the scraps. Not his fault.”
Giles gave him a hard look. “I wouldn’t ‘do’ anything to him. It would just help if I knew how much he had to forgive himself for. I’m also certain that you’re a large part of his guilt. Look at you! A vampire, a killer. You’ve attacked his friends and him on numerous occasions and yet he’s spent the last two years with the knowledge that you and he –”
Giles’s mouth twisted. “I imagine that’s an accurate description, yes. It explains a lot.”
“Unless you were hidden under the bed, Rupert, you don’t know what we did. If last night was anything to go by it wasn’t just –”
He looked away and Giles watched him search for the words before giving up and growling with exasperation.
“You and he made a connection, perhaps?” he offered softly, his eyes intent, measuring. “One that’s prevented Xander from entering into a relationship that lasted?”
Spike looked up, his eyes curious. “Maybe. Who’s he been with then?”
Giles smiled despite himself. “Xander’s love life is the stuff of legends. He seems to unfailingly fall in love with the most unsuitable people and they with him. No, that’s not a gibe at you, although you certainly fit the description. The last one was a former vengeance demon turned human. She seemed to take quite a fancy to him but from what I gathered, it didn’t get much farther than a one night stand.”
“Is that all you can say?”
“Dunno. Can probably manage a few more words but I’m as knackered as Xander to tell the truth. You try kipping tied to a chair. Softer than your bloody bath but that’s about all you can say for it.”
Giles studied him. He did look tired. “I have more questions but they can wait. Go to bed. I’ll get you some blood in the morning and you can stay here tomorrow if you like.”
“Why are you being all welcoming, Giles? Thought you couldn’t wait to get rid of me?”
Giles stood, picking up his mug. “You know very well why I sent you away, Spike,” he said tersely. “I wish I hadn’t but it’s too late now. The damage is done.”
Spike surged to his feet, energised by his anger. “What damage? He’s been happy with me. I’ve not hurt him and I don’t plan to.”
“It’s only been a day, Spike,” said Giles impatiently. “You don’t love him and no matter how beneficial it is for him to confront the events of two years ago, I can only see a host of problems in front of us.”
Spike met his eyes. “Don’t know if I love him or not. It’s why I want to reverse the spell, so I can find out.”
Giles laughed shortly. “If you’re capable of love –”
“I am. Capable of just about anything, Watcher.”
‘Then you should know how you feel without the memories.”
Spike bit his lip. “I’m not asking you to take my word for it, but something happened back then. I can feel it. Something was triggered. I’ve asked Xander and he won’t tell me in enough detail.”
“You didn’t perform any rituals, didn’t feed on him?”
Spike glared. “Have you been listening at all? I. Don’t. Know.”
“But – oh, the hell with it. Tomorrow we’ll get this sorted out. Now I’m going to bed.”
He made it to the foot of the stairs before Spike spoke, his voice hesitant. “Why are you helping me?”
Giles didn’t turn around. “I’m not. I’m helping Xander. Any benefit to you is an unfortunate side effect.”
Spike’s chuckle followed him as he climbed the stairs.
Continued in Chapter Six