By Jane Davitt
Sequel to Predatory Acts
Giles said quietly, “What happened?” Spike stepped towards Xander and Giles reached out and took his arm. “Better not.”
Spike’s attention was focused on Xander, who was standing with his head bowed, his shoulders curved inward. “Let go, Giles,” he said absently. “Think I know what’s happened.” He stepped close to Xander and brushed his blood stained fingers across his lips, frowning with concentration. Xander’s head came up and he breathed in deeply before sweeping his tongue across the fingers, tasting what his teeth had drawn from Spike’s neck. Spike let him, murmuring to him softly, too low for Giles to hear. Xander finished cleaning the blood from Spike’s fingers and frowned at him, blinking and looking confused.
Giles glanced at Spike’s face and saw the confusion mirrored there. “What is it?” he asked, keeping his voice soothing and low.
“This is – I’ve done this before. Blood on my hand and he’s tasting it...can’t _remember_ it right!”
Spike’s frustration was tangible but his attention returned to Xander almost at once. He was swaying, his face contorted, his movements jerky. “Going to be ... sick,” he said, his hand going to cover his mouth. Pushing past Giles he stumbled into the kitchen and threw up in the sink. Giles and Spike exchanged glances and mercifully left him alone.
“I’m sorry, Spike,” Giles said unexpectedly.
Spike tilted his head, considering the man beside him. Giles had done plenty to him that Spike thought rated an apology, but not recently. “What for exactly?” he asked, listening to the sound of Xander with his head under the tap, frantically swallowing as much of the gushing water as he could.
“When I came down the stairs, I assumed, well, I thought you were hurting him. I forgot about the chip, just went with my instincts, I’m afraid.”
Spike gave him a pitying look. “Nothing to do with the chip. Wouldn’t hurt Xander any more than I’d have hurt Dru. He’s mine.”
Giles’ lips tightened but he said nothing. Xander appeared in the archway that led to the kitchen, his face pale. “Sorry about that,” he said, walking over to the sofa and collapsing on it without looking at anyone.
“Not your fault, love,” said Spike going over to kneel beside him, looking up into Xander’s face. He touched Xander’s cheek, forcing him to meet his eyes. “I felt it too.”
Xander’s eyes were haunted. “I thought you were...her. I could smell your blood and I wanted it. I hurt you. God, I hate this!”
“’Her’?” Giles asked. “The woman in the alley?”
Xander nodded wordlessly.
“Do you think your memory flash is related to that moment, too, Spike? It could explain why you experienced it if there is a link of some kind between you both.”
“You think?” Spike’s voice was bitter. “Not a whole lot going on here that makes any sense.” He moved to sit beside Xander, close enough to touch but keeping his hands folded.
Giles sighed. “What happened, then? You were...kissing and -?”
Xander looked at him directly for the first time. “I came in the door and it was fine. Then everything seemed to change. Spike –” he turned to him, “you came to me and I couldn’t move, it was so intense I – and we were kissing, yes, but you tasted like...I just wanted more.”
“So you bit me.” Spike’s voice was reassuring, even mildly amused. “Can’t fault you for that, love.”
Xander gave him a pained look. “Not my idea of a snack, Spike, sorry. Tasted good for a moment but then, well, not so good.”
“We noticed,” Giles said, relieved that Xander seemed to be recovering his composure. “Spike? Do you have anything to add?”
Spike shrugged, “I missed him. Felt wrong with him not being here. When he came in I just went to him, that’s all.”
Giles looked at them both and shook his head. “This isn’t right,” he murmured. “Neither of you are behaving as you should.”
Xander and Spike exchanged glances. “Thought you were cool with it, Giles,” Xander ventured.
Giles glared at him. “Then you thought wrong.” He stabbed a finger at Xander and then Spike. “Human. Vampire. Do I need to continue?”
“Then why did you let us, I mean, this morning?”
Xander looked painfully embarrassed. Giles said wearily, “Xander, I’m not your parent. Your love life is none of my concern. I have no right to comment and no inclination either.”
Xander stood up, walking over to Giles. “You’re my friend, Giles. Friends get to comment. Or did I get that wrong, too?”
Giles arched an eyebrow. “About us being friends? No, of course not. You, Buffy, Willow, all of you have become very...important to me. It’s not what I expected when I took up my duties as Buffy’s Watcher, but there it is. I’m still not going to assume that I have the right to meddle though.”
“I wish you cared enough to do it anyway.”
Xander’s voice was almost inaudible but Giles was close enough to hear the words and recognise the plea behind them. Acting on an impulse he reached out and pulled Xander to him for a hug as he had done the day before. Xander returned the hug gratefully and then jerked back, looking scared, his arms falling away. “Giles, don’t! Suppose it happens with you?”
Spike was watching them, visibly tense but making an effort not to interfere. This roused him from his role of observer and he said curiously, “Good point. Sniff him. Do you want to take a nibble or is it just me?” Giles glared at him and he shrugged. “What? Worth knowing.”
That caught Giles’ attention and he nodded slowly. “True. Until we find out what’s happening, we can’t risk this happening to someone who matters.”
“Well, thank you so much!”
“Save it, Spike. If you expect sympathy for a bite on your neck, well suffice it to say, you won’t get it from me.”
Spike grinned. “Don’t want sympathy. Just like the old days, really.”
Giles looked disgusted but resigned. He turned back to Xander who was standing beside him, silently, his face still pale. “Xander, I’m not suggesting that we replicate your actions precisely –”
“Bloody better not,” Spike snapped.
“But if you could just attempt to, well that is –”
“I know what you want me to do. I’ll try.”
Xander’s voice was empty of emotion but his hands were trembling slightly. He moved closer to Giles, biting his lip as Giles flinched. “Sorry,” Giles murmured. “This is surprisingly difficult.”
Spike came over to them. “I’m here. Won’t let anything happen.”
Giles wasn’t quite sure how to take that but he shook his head. “You can’t stand too close, Spike. It might confuse...things.”
Spike stepped back a little and folded his arms. Xander closed his eyes for a moment and then moved forward, his hands by his side, his face relaxed. Giles stood still and tried to empty his mind but it was difficult. Xander was walking around him now in tight circles, brushing against him with his body, taunting him. Giles gasped soundlessly as he discovered that Xander was hard, and forced himself to stand still. With a sick fascination Giles realised that even if Xander didn’t attack him he was still seeing him exhibit atypical behaviour, and he took his mind off an experience that was frankly disturbing by considering the reasons for this regression.
Xander was behind him now, leaning in and smelling Giles, nuzzling into his hair and along his neck. Giles shuddered and caught Spike’s eyes, seeing them gleam with a growing arousal that matched Xander’s and was echoed in his own body to a certain extent. It was impossible to concentrate when his senses were wiping his mind clear of anything but the simplest thoughts. It wasn’t Xander himself that was provoking his reaction, more a primitive response to being touched (how long had it been?), another body so close (too close, not...civilised, not done), his scent taken and tasted by a predator (dangerous, deadly, exciting...). Xander licked slowly down his jaw line, his tongue leaving a cool dampness and nipped at his throat suddenly, the sharp pain triggering a confusion of emotions, and Giles broke away, turning to face Xander, seeing with horror that the boy was smiling with a cruel amusement at his fear and dying, evanescent arousal.
Struggling to find a balance that had fled in the space of a few minutes, Giles found his eyes turning to Spike. The vampire was swaying slightly, eyes half closed, lips parted. His face was still human but he looked feral, wild. Giles made a choice based on instinct. “Spike!” he said sharply, urgently. “Xander needs you.”
Spike’s eyes opened fully and he shook himself out of the trance that held him captive. His gaze raked over Xander and he looked wary for a moment and then, shrugging, he took two swift strides and punched Xander hard on the shoulder. Spike’s shout of pain was music to Giles’ ears and triggered the return of Xander’s own personality.
“Giles? What did I -? Oh, God, I’m so sorry-”
Giles shook his head. “No. It wasn’t your fault; it was, well, not even mine really.”
“If you blame me,” Spike said, rubbing his aching head, “I’ll not be responsible for my language.”
“It’s no one’s fault and thank you for acting so promptly, Spike.”
Xander rotated his shoulder. “I forgot to say thanks. No, wait. I forgot to say ‘oww’. Oww. There. Now I feel better.”
Giles gave him an exasperated if indulgent look. “Spike not only jarred you out of whatever it was that was making you act that way, he also confirmed that you’re not possessed by a demon.”
“True, but it still hurt.” Xander smiled at Spike. “You can –”
“If the words ‘kiss’ and ‘better’ emerge from your mouth I’ll get –”
“Tetchy?” Spike offered.
Giles glared. “At the very least.”
“Stop talking English,” Xander complained. “You’re in America now.”
“You have a point,” Giles said mildly, “but trust me, I’m too old to change my ways. Now shall we get down to business? You managed to find the charm, I hope?”
Xander took it out of his pocket and passed it to Giles who held it gingerly in the palm of his hand. “Hmm. It feels heavy. I’m assuming it’s the standard mix of ingredients. What did they use to make it specific to you, Spike?”
Spike’s look was indescribable. “If I knew that, Rupert, we wouldn’t be in this fix.” His voice rose. “I don’t bloody remember, you senile git!”
Giles came as close to abashed as Xander had ever seen, removing his glasses and polishing them for an inordinate amount of time. “Ah, yes. Of course. Then best we begin researching.” He waited for them to settle at the table and then said casually, “And Spike? Senile or not, I would appreciate a modicum of respect from you.”
“You earn respect, Giles,” said Spike, not turning around. Xander’s foot must have lashed out because Spike jerked in his seat and added hastily, “Which of course, you have mate. Oh, yes. No problem there and I’ll tear the guts out of anyone who says different.”
Giles rolled his eyes. “I’m touched.”
“So’s my shin,” muttered Spike.
Two hours later and Giles gave up. “I can’t reverse it without knowing what’s in it and I don’t have the facilities to analyse it. Willow might be able to, but –”
“No!” Xander said forcefully. “I don’t want her involved in this. She’d freak if she found out about Spike.”
Spike glanced at him and then looked back at the book he’d been pretending to read for the last twenty minutes, keeping his face still. Xander gave him a stricken look and began to babble but Spike cut him off with an impatient wave of his hand, slamming the book down and standing up. “Forget it. And forget this too. When night falls, I’m going to Dremar’s and get him to reverse this.”
Giles looked resigned as he shrugged. He hadn’t expected Spike’s patience to last for long. “Perhaps that would be best.”
“Last time he had to cut you up. Your arm was a mess. And he doesn’t owe you a favour anymore, so how will you pay him?” Xander’s voice was flat as he fought to hide his concern.
Spike stared at him for a moment and then held up his arms. “See any marks?”
Xander came to him and ran his fingers over the bare skin of Spike’s forearm. “They were here. Symbols carved into you.”
“Really?” Giles sounded interested. “Can you remember them at all? That might be helpful.”
“No,” Spike said before Xander had chance to reply. “Told you what’s going to happen.” He grinned at Xander, touching his fingers briefly to Xander’s face. “And you’re wrong, pet. He does owe me a favour.”
“If he helps me out, I won’t kill him. I’d say saving someone’s life was a big favour, wouldn’t you?”
Xander stared at him, shaking his head. “You are so –”
“Incorrigible,” muttered Giles.
“Practical,” countered Spike. “If he needs some blood, fine, but I’m all out of cash.”
Giles pursed his lips and then shrugged again. “I’m sure you’ll manage to be persuasive, Spike.”
“I’ll make sure he behaves,” said Xander.
“What? You’re not going with him!” Giles said. “I absolutely forbid it. This is Spike’s problem and he can damn well sort it out himself.”
Spike glared at him and then said reluctantly, “Watcher’s got a point. Not keen on taking you with me. Rough bit of town and for all I know he’s moved. Might take a while to track him down.”
Xander looked at then both and said quietly, “You’re both forgetting something. Two things really. First is that when we’re split up, I turn into Hyde, and the second is that the counter spell will probably need my blood, not Spike’s. He has to get the memories of me back, remember?”
“It didn’t need your blood before,” Giles objected. “Or if it did, you unaccountably failed to mention it.”
Spike shook his head. “Can’t help you there.” He looked at Xander enquiringly. “Did I make you bleed?”
His voice was matter of fact but Giles felt fury rise within him. He still hadn’t quite accepted what Xander must have endured at Spike’s hands. Pleasure, yes, but there would have been pain and fear and shame as well. The idea that Spike had hurt him to the point of drawing blood made him feel sick with anger.
Xander looked uncomfortable. “Well, yes. Got a little...rough now and then the first time, when I was still...but you didn’t feed off me or anything.”
“You’re sure?” Spike said. “Because thinking about it, the spell would have needed...oh.”
“Fresh out of it,” Xander said, with an attempt of humour. “Can do you a good deal on Z’s though.”
Giles folded his arms and waited silently, his eyes never leaving Spike’s face.
“I didn’t know you then!” Spike said, the words defensive, his eyes wary. “I did the best I could for you, got Dru off your back and all that...but the only way Dremar could have worked it is to have taken your blood himself. Tracked you down after I ordered it.”
“But he didn’t,” Xander said. “I’d remember a demon in a Red Cross outfit! And how would he know where I lived?”
Giles’s voice was soft, his eyes hard. “He’d know if Spike told him. Isn’t that right, Spike? And as to your lack of memory of the event...he’s a demon specialising in editing memories. I don’t think we really need to look any further for an explanation.”
Spike didn’t back away from the implicit threat. Giles looked as if he was on the verge of starting a fight and was just looking for an excuse. Spike might not have seen himself in a mirror for over a century but he’d felt that look on his own face too many times not to recognise it. “Could be,” he said. “Only one way to find out, isn’t there?” He glanced out of the window. “Sun’s set. You coming, Xander?”
The question hung in the air as Xander stared at Spike, disillusionment fighting desire. Spike sighed and turned away as the silence went on too long for him to expect an answer.
He’d made it to the door when Xander took two steps towards him. “Wait. I’m coming with you.”
“Changed my mind,” said Spike without looking at him, “Might be more surprises you won’t like.”
“We’re all going,” Giles said abruptly. “ Xander, get some weapons. Spike, stop making a grand exit and tell me what species this demon is.”
Spike turned around. “I don’t get it.”
Giles smiled tightly. “It’s not necessary that you do. You and Xander can go into the demon, I’ll provide back up. Now. Tell me what we need to kill it if it comes to that.”
“It doesn’t take anything special to kill him. Sword through the guts, chop off his head...but it better not come to that, or we’ll never get this spell sorted,” Spike warned, his surprise giving way to suspicion.
Giles looked at him steadily. “I think I can safely say that of the three of us, I have the most pressing need for you to get your memories back.”
“Oh? Why’s that then?”
Giles accepted the axe that Xander held out to him, testing its balance in a downward sweep that came very close to Spike’s arm. “Because once I find out exactly what happened I’ll be able to decide exactly what to do to you in return.”
Spike stared at him for a long moment. “Could be you’ll have to stand in line, Watcher.” His eyes drifted to Xander and then back to Giles. “Think you can do that?”
“We’ll have to see,” Giles replied. “Shall we go?”
“Yes, let’s go,” Xander muttered, pushing past them. “Before you two decide it’s past my bedtime or something.”
Continued in Chapter Nine