By Jane Davitt
Sequel to Predatory Acts
“Newsflash, mate. Vampire. Does not live on donuts alone.”
“Then why do you like the sprinkles?”
“Crunchy. Sort of miss a bit of texture. Everything I have in my mouth is liquid – well nearly everything...”
Spike smiled over his shoulder, inviting Xander to react to the innuendo. Xander couldn’t help grinning back. “You’re so predictable.”
“Bored of me already?”
There was a hint, just a tiny suggestion of hurt in Spike’s voice and Xander reacted instinctively, moving towards the bed and reaching out to touch Spike’s shoulder as he buried his face in the pillow. “No! God, no, Spike. I didn’t – you bastard, you’re laughing! You devious, disgraceful...”
“Depraved and debauched,” said Giles from the hallway, making no attempt to come in. “I’m sorry to interrupt the laudable attempt to improve Xander’s vocabulary but breakfast is ready. Downstairs now, please.” His voice managed to combine a deceptive mildness with the inflexibility of granite and Xander grimaced, recognising the signs that Giles was out of patience.
Breakfast over, Giles looked across the table at Spike and Xander, his face serious. “I’ll understand if you don’t wish for my help but I’ll offer it nonetheless. Spike, before you go to see this demon, I want to research the charm you used. It might be that we can reverse it ourselves if you’re sure that’s what you want to do.”
“I’m bloody certain, Watcher. How many more times do I have to –”
Xander glared at Spike and smiled at Giles in a complex series of facial contortions. “That would be great, Giles. Honest. So – what do you need? Point us at the books.”
“Not me. I’m not one of your tame research geeks. Demon’s help is good enough for me.”
Xander sighed. “Spike, if you’re done being the poster child for petulance, perhaps you’ll forgive Giles and believe him when he says they were sold out of sprinkles.”
“Might. Might not.”
“Oh, for God’s sake! Xander, go home and bring me the charm. I want to see it. Spike, keep out of my way until he returns or I won’t be held responsible.”
Xander stood up, looking out at the beautifully sunny day and then at Spike, wavering. “Giles? You won’t do anything?”
His meaning was clear, his anxiety palpable, and Giles sighed, regretting his hasty words. “No. I won’t. Go.”
The door closed behind Xander and Spike eased back in his chair and eyed Giles speculatively. He waved his hand around vaguely. “This helping thing...it’s on the level? Not going to accidentally do a spell and oh, whoops, Spike ended up dusty, what a pity?”
“It’s tempting, “Giles said, an edge to his voice, beginning to clear the table. “My only concern is the effect it might have on Xander.”
He took the dishes into the kitchen and returned, leaning against the wall, arms folded. Spike pursed his lips and hooked a chair towards him to put his feet on. “I’m not getting staked because you don’t want to break Xander’s heart? Never took you for the sentimental type.”
Giles walked over, swept the chair away, letting Spike’s feet thud against the floor, and sat down on it himself. “I don’t give a toss about that. I want Xander to still be alive to be heartbroken, that’s all. These...hints about you being linked are bothering me and neither of you are being forthcoming; you through your memory loss, Xander through a combination of ignorance and embarrassment.”
“Ah, so that’s what you were up to this morning? Trying to get Xander to see you as a friendly ear? All mates and yes, fuck Spike with my blessings, dear boy? Thought as much. Not that I’m complaining about the end result, mind you.”
Giles gave him a look that would have stripped paint. “I _am_ Xander’s friend and have been for some time. Does that trouble you in some way?”
Spike considered the question and finally shook his head. “No. Lad needs someone looking out for him. Get the feeling the Slayer and Red are too busy for him right now.” He cocked his head to the side. “You’re a bit out of the loop too, aren’t you?”
“Oh, spare me the sympathy. Yes, my situation has altered and I’m finding life a little dull but somehow I don’t see that state of affairs continuing much longer.”
Giles gave him a slow smile, loaded with meaning. “It’s not crossed your mind to wonder what the Slayer’s reaction will be to all this?” He sighed theatrically. “I’ve tried but she still has this worrying impetuosity, a tendency to stake first and apologise later...”
“Bloody better not! Giles, do something.” Spike looked petulant rather than perturbed, clearly not overly concerned.
“I rather thought I was,” Giles said pointedly. “I’m not staking you and I’m devoting my day to research.”
“What? Oh. Yeah. Thanks.”
“Please, Spike. Don’t get effusive. It embarrasses us both.”
Spike grinned and for the first time Giles returned it without considering the source. Then his face went hard.
Giles swept off his glasses and polished them on his shirt. “When you get the memories back, by whatever method, it will alter the dynamic of your relationship with Xander.”
“Do you have to talk all fancy like that? Just say it, spit it out.”
Spike’s voice was impatient but Giles noticed that his hand was clenching into a fist. “I mean that you met in unusual circumstances; that Xander was attracted to a person who in a very real sense no longer exists.”
“Seems happy enough with this version. And he wasn’t exactly himself, remember? Should’ve thought you’d be glad I was different too. If I wasn’t, I’d be thinking about turning him; you know that right?”
Giles bit his lip, willing his body to stay still when his instincts were clamouring at him to remove the threat to Xander. “If I thought there was even a remote possibility of that, I’d stake you now, Spike. Believe that.”
Spike nodded. “You’d have to try. But if I could turn him, I could take you, remember. No chip.”
Giles laughed shortly. “I think we’re getting a little hypothetical here, though I confess I’m curious at to why you didn’t turn him when you could. But you can’t anymore and so I won’t be staking you just yet. Let’s leave it at that. Now, Xander should be back soon so I think I’ll just make a start on finding some books that might be relevant.”
“What do you want me to do?”
“Oh? Stopped sulking now?”
Spike stood up and walked over to the bookshelves. “Never started, mate. Just wanted to distract the boy a bit. If he’d blushed any more when you asked if I was sitting comfortably, you could have made toast on his face.” He turned and stared at Giles, his lips curving with sardonic amusement. “You’re a right bastard, you know that?”
Giles ducked his head to hide an unrepentant smile. “Sorry.”
“You tease him again and I’ll make you mean that.”
Giles jerked his head up. “Are you threatening me, Spike?” he asked softly, his eyes curious, watchful.
“Call it a warning. Xander’s got enough to deal with. He doesn’t need to be laughed at too.”
Giles raised his hand, going over to join him by the bookcase. “Peccavi,” he said, the Latin word coming automatically to his lips.
Spike’s eyes widened in surprise. “Absolve,” he replied in kind.
Giles looked at him speculatively but didn’t comment. “If you like, you can begin to read through these books,” he said, passing two over to Spike. He got out paper and pens and they settled down at the table in a silence broken only by Spike’s fidgeting. Giles wondered if Spike knew how many times he turned to look at the door, how his face sharpened with anticipation at every sound in the courtyard.
“He’ll be back soon,” he offered eventually.
Spike glared at him. “What?”
“Xander. He’ll be –”
“I _know_ that. What makes you think I care if he’s gone a while?”
Giles shook his head. “Never mind.”
“Stupid wanker,” Spike muttered.
“Don’t be so hard on yourself, Spike,” Giles said amiably.
Spike snorted and bent his head back to the book he was reading. Giles began to count silently. Spike’s head had turned before he reached three.
Xander’s return with the charm came as a welcome relief. Spike was out of his chair before the door opened, his face relaxing. He stepped towards him eagerly and then paused. Giles frowned, puzzled, and then saw that Xander was still framed by the sunlight spilling through the open door. Walking over, he casually closed it and sauntered over to the stairs. “Just going to check some books I have stored upstairs,” he said, not looking back.
Xander went to Spike, reaching out his hand unthinkingly. “Well, I’m back,” he said. “Got the charm and –”
“Stop _talking_,” Spike said, his voice ragged. Before Xander could react to the sudden flare of emotion Spike’s hands were cupping his face, barely touching his skin, Spike’s lips were on his mouth, brushing it softly, insistently. Xander’s arms were by his side now and Spike was standing far enough away that their bodies weren’t quite touching. Xander’s eyes closed as the cool hands held him still, gossamer light, spider web strong, and the hungry mouth sent him flying, floating, free. Three points of contact and his body was aching for more, but he couldn’t seem to move, could only kiss back, the need he felt spinning higher as the kiss grew avid, desperate. He was waiting, just waiting for Spike to move forward, to break the spell that held him still, that weighed down his hands so that they couldn’t reach out but Spike seemed as helpless as he was. Xander had to look, had to see...his eyes opened and blazing blue, like a sun scorched summer sky, filled his vision as he looked directly into Spike’s eyes. Then Spike swayed forward, his hands dropping to Xander’s waist, and pulled him close. Xander felt the need rise within him and stopped fighting it.
Giles gathered together three books from the neatly labelled boxes and looked around at the discarded lumber intended for his shelves. So much had happened in a day, but life as a Watcher on a Hellmouth had made his priorities shift. No one was dead. It could have been worse. Deciding that he’d given them long enough to get over the hell of being apart for almost an hour and marvelling at his own forbearance, he started to walk down the stairs.
Glancing down at the room below, feeling awkward rather than embarrassed, Giles saw the two figures locked together tightly and flushed with annoyance. “Will you please control yourselves,” he snapped. “This will get done much faster if you just – oh God –”
Tossing the books on the stair above him, Giles hurried over, grabbing Spike’s shoulders and pulling him away from Xander. The vampire’s eyes were glazed but still human, his mouth clean. Pushing him away, Giles turned to look at Xander. He looked dazed, almost sleepy and as Giles watched in horror he licked at his lips, tasting the blood that was smeared across them.
“It’s from me, Watcher,” Spike said quietly, his hand going to his wounded neck.
Continued in Chapter Eight